John Wall’s first eight games showed a player that could score and distribute – putting up double figures in each game, and dishing out double-figure assist totals four times times. But he was also someone that could be a bit reckless with the ball. In his third, fourth and fifth games, he turned the ball over a total of 23 times. Even now, Wall still struggles to cut down on the turnovers. Lillard has also turned the ball over quite a bit, averaging 3.2 per 36 through his first eight, but that’s still under Wall’s 3.6 rookie mark.
Through his first eight games, Stephen Curry could definitely be considered the underachiever on this list. He cracked double figures in scoring on only two nights, and had no double-digit assist games. After playing only two minutes against the Knicks during his eighth game of the season, Curry rebounded from the slow start by scoring in double figures in his next seven games. Curry’s play really picked up in the latter half of the season. He didn’t record 10 assists in a game until February, but he achieved that milestone in style, recording 36 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists for his first triple-double.
The two players that most closely resemble Lillard through his first eight games are Chris Paul and Derrick Rose. There’s a consistency to all three of their performances, an excellent sign for Blazers fans. Through his first eight games, Derrick Rose cracked 20 points on three occasions, and never fell into single digits. He also had a couple of nine-assist games, and in the eighth game of his rookie year, he recorded 26 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Chris Paul also never fell below below double-figures in scoring during his first eight games, and he produced two games with double-figure assists, including his eighth game of his rookie year where he scored 25 points, handed out 12 dimes and grabbed seven rebounds.
While Lillard’s eighth game against Sacramento this year wasn’t as good as Rose and Paul’s eighth game of their rookie seasons, it was still pretty solid: 22 points, nine assists, and four turnovers, and his totals up to now best or match Paul and Rose’s totals. He only had one game, his first against the Lakers, where he recorded a double-double, scoring 23 points and handing out 11 dimes, but he’s also had a couple nine-assist games while cracking 20 points in five of his first eight. He’s scoring better than Paul and Rose did at this point of their rookie seasons, but he’s also dishing about as well as Paul did and slightly better than Rose.
What this all really means depends on how much more Lillard develops. He’s already 22 and a half years old (Wall is actually younger). Just looking at a sample size of eight games is not enough to foreshadow how Lillard’s career will go. As we’ve seen with both Wall and Curry, injuries could take their toll or rob Lillard of his quickness. But his consistency at this level while playing point guard is a really good sign. He’s a tad reckless with the ball, but his numbers and maturity under pressure signify a career that has a good chance at stardom.
All of these players are among the best point guards in the league, and Wall and Curry would be higher if they hadn’t battled injuries the last couple years. Damian Lillard has only played eight games in the NBA, but based off those eight games, and the first eight games of the point guards mentioned, he has a very bright future in the cloudy climes of the Pacific Northwest.
How good will Lillard be?
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