Damian Lillard's Participation in Every All-Star Event Further Proves Stardom

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 8, 2014

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard is shown during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)
Don Ryan/Associated Press

As if Damian Lillard hasn't done enough already in his nearly two years in the NBA, he's making history at the 2014 All-Star Weekend in a way that only adds to his growing star status. 

The Portland Trail Blazers point guard made the All-Star Game in just his second season in the league, but wasn't done there.

Per USA Today's Sam Amick, he's competing in all five events—the Rising Stars Challenge, the Skills Challenge, the Three-Point contest, the Slam Dunk contest and the All-Star Game.

Lillard's rise to fame has happened noticeably quickly. Just before the 2012 NBA Draft, the product of Weber State wasn't known much in basketball circles other than as an uber-talented sleeper prospect in the draft out of a small school.

The risks were there in selecting him—Lillard had hardly played top competition in college—but his potential ended up shining through as the Trail Blazers nabbed him sixth overall. 

What was a surprisingly high pick to some ended up being perhaps not high enough. One season later, Lillard was taking home Rookie of the Year honors after averaging 19 points and 6.5 assists per game, to immediately become one of the better point guards in the association. 

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

And for Portland faithful, his most impressive statistic was 82—he stayed healthy and started all 82 games to break the franchise's trend of young stars facing injury troubles. 

Lillard's ascension was a promising sign for Portland, but a 33-49 record proved that the rebuilding process was still very much intact. Until the next season, that is, as the Blazers have quickly become one of the top teams in the West in 2013-14.

The Portland star's numbers have stayed about the same, with 20.6 points and 5.7 assists on average. But Lillard is shooting much more efficiently from long range, hitting 40.5 percent of his threes on the year, as opposed to 36.8 percent a year ago. 


But it's his versatility and all-around game that makes his feat of competing in all five All-Star Weekend events so impressive and compelling. Very few players can call themselves elite at deep shooting, skill moves and dunking, as well as having a complete game necessary to being an All-Star in the first place.

To bring it all together, Lillard faces it all with an aggressive mentality that exudes confidence as Amick's tweet proves:

Anthony Davis was supposed to be the crown jewel of the 2012 draft class, but Lillard has made quite the case and is looking to be on the fast track to stardom. He's quickly becoming one of the most entertaining and effective point guards in the league, all while playing on one of the league's best teams.

Paul George saw his level of national exposure go from non-existent to moderate to substantial, largely based off his Pacers becoming a power in the East. 

If—and that's a big if—Portland is serious about contending in the West and is able to stand toe-to-toe with teams like Oklahoma City and San Antonio in the playoffs, Lillard may end up seeing some of that same, or at least, similar, attention.

Oh, and it might not be a coincidence that George also competed in the Slam Dunk contest right before his breakout season.