Damian Lillard, G, Portland
Craig Mitchelldyer, The Associated Press
A healthier Damian Lillard is back to playing the kind of basketball that puts him among the NBA’s best, and last week he was brilliant. Thus he is The Denver Post’s player of the week.
What’s up: In three games, Lillard was stellar, averaging 28.3 points, 9.7 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game. The all-star guard shot 53.6 percent from the field, including 54.8 percent from the 3-point line. The Blazers won all three games, including a 115-110 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Background: A bout with plantar fasciitis shelved Lillard for seven games in December, but he has come on strong in the six games he has played since. His best game of last week was his 31-point, nine-rebound, seven-assist effort in the Blazers’ win over the Thunder. He followed that up with double-doubles in each of the next two games, victories against Utah and Brooklyn.
Dempsey’s take: This is an interesting season for Lillard. The summer departures of LaMarcus Aldridge (free agency), Nicolas Batum (trade) and Wesley Matthews (free agency) mean this is his team now, and he’s feeling all of the weight that goes with being counted on to carry a team night in and night out. He’s answering the bell. Lillard sometimes gets lost in a Western Conference stuffed full of elite-level point guards, but if he continues on his blazing path this season, he’ll stand out by the time the playoffs arrive.