Damian Lillard was near the top of a lot of preseason rookie of the year ballots, but he has done his part thus far to raise expectations even higher. Through six games, the Portland Trail Blazers' 22-year-old rookie has averaged 18.8 points and 7.0 assists per game and has lived up to the hype that comes with being the No. 6 overall pick.
In Portland, Lillard's performance couldn't be better-timed. The Blazers are still a young team and have a lot of talent, and Lillard has a chance to become the motor that makes the machine go. Fans are still stung by the retirement and subsequent un-retirement of former franchise cornerstone point guard Brandon Roy, and Lillard has done a superb job of helping them move on.
The future is bright in Portland and the selection of Lillard will go a long way toward making the Blazers a perennial playoff contender. They're not there yet, but fans have reason to believe that Portland can challenge the best in the West.
It may take a while, but there are many reasons why Lillard will have an integral role in Portland's rise to prominence.