Damian Lillard has been one of the most overlooked stars in the league in recent years. Whether this is because of how much talent there has been at the point guard position, or because he plays in a smaller market with the Portland Trail Blazers, isn’t clear. No matter what the reason, the NBA had better focus on Lillard this season as he may have his best yet as a pro.

Lillard is a two-time All-Star and former Rookie of the Year award winner, but his last two seasons, he has missed the All-Star game despite improving his scoring. Averaging 25 points per game in 2015-16 and 27 points per game in 2016-17 is a fairly big jump from 21 points per game, which he averaged in his last All-Star season in 2015. Lillard has been playing and acting as though he has a chip on his shoulder, and he has the mentality that he can be the best. All of those are signs of continuous improvement going into this season.

At the end of last season, Portland made a trade that sent Mason Plumlee to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Jusuf Nurkic. When Nurkic was healthy, he fit in with the team very well, adding a presence inside helped take some of the weight off of Lillard and his backcourt mate C.J. McCollum. In the month of March last season, the Trail Blazers went 13-3 with these three on the court together. Unfortunately, Nurkic was injured before the playoffs started, but now they have a fresh season ahead of them to show everyone that Portland is for real.

With many stars joining forces this offseason, Damian Lillard is determined to bring a championship to the team that drafted him. Is this the year for that? At this moment it looks unlikely, although anything is possible in the NBA. However, Portland may surprise some people this season. Look for them to reach close to 50 wins this year (though this might only be good enough for the six seed in the West, though).

As for Lillard himself, people know how great of a scorer he is, but this could be the year he breaks out. Here’s a bold prediction: Damian Lillard will lead the league in scoring this year. His points per game have improved every year by at least a few points, and this season should be no different. Look for him to average 30 or more points per game. The NBA will be forced to recognize Lillard if he can pull it off, and with many of the league’s top scorers playing alongside one another, there’s no reason he can’t do it.

Damian Lillard has undeniably been overlooked these past two seasons, and he has made it clear that’s not something he is okay with. He is ready to prove all the doubters wrong, and show that “superteams” are not the only way to be successful. Fans will just have to wait to find out whether or not he will fulfill his potential for this season.

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