Sports Out West

Damian Lillard on 2013-14 expectations: ‘People’s antennas are up’

Photo Credit: Chris Humphrey/USA TODAY Sports

As Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard prepares for his sophomore professional season after winning the 2012-13 NBA Rookie of the Year Award, he knows that he can’t sneak up on anyone the way he may have last season en route to averages of 19 points and 6.5 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game. 

This season, the Blazers will rely heavily on the No. 6 overall pick to help carry them into the playoffs in an ultra-competitive Western Conference laced with talent. Similarly, Lillard knows other teams will key in on him as well. 

“Last year I was unknown and I kind of just came onto the scene,” he said Friday on The Jim Rome Show on CBS Sports Radio.  ”You can say I probably caught some people off guard and now people’s antennas are up. They know who I am and the sports people will expect more from me because of last season.” 

Those sports people include ESPN, who rank the Blazers dead in the middle among all 30 NBA teams at No. 15 to start the season. The plan for the future clearly includes Lillard, who will now be expected to take the reigns as the unquestioned leader of a young team. It will be up to him and the rest of the young core of Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge to prove they can make waves in the Pacific Divison. For Aldridge, trade rumors continue to swirl around the big man and that’s just another distraction Lillard will have to contend with as he prepares for his second year. 

The expectations are high from everyone, including himself. 

“I expect more from myself. That’s usually how things go when you play well or good things happen,” he said. “People always want more and they always expect more.”

The Blazers will open their season on Oct. 30 when they travel to the desert to face the Phoenix Suns. 

Here’s what fans can expect to see more of from Lillard this upcoming season: 

 

Photo Credit: Chris Humphrey/USA TODAY Sports

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Michael C. Jones is the managing editor and founder of Sports Out West and a Southern California-based sports journalist. His work is also regularly featured on Yahoo! Sports and SB Nation. You can catch up with him on Twitter: @MikeJonesTweets.