Damian Lillard Receives Key To The City While Two Former Ducks Workout For The Blazers
Damian Lillard Awarded Key To The City of Ogden, Utah
Another week, another award being bestowed upon Damian Lillard. But it isn’t a trophy he can proudly place in his ever-growing mantle. Instead Lillard now has to find somewhere to put an over-sized key that doesn’t actually open doors.
This week Lillard was awarded a key to the city by Ogden, Utah. The point guard spent four seasons at Weber State University in Ogden before being chosen by Portland with the No. 6 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Lillard received the key on “Damian Day,” which was established last year as another way to celebrate the Rookie-of-the-Year who played at the small-town school. He was able to visit the city on his day and he was welcomed by several hundred Wildcat fans who no doubt cheered for Lillard during his time at Weber State.
Upon receiving the key, Lillard thanked the Ogden school not only for giving him a chance to play, but also pushing him like he was any other player on the team.
“It got to a point to where I felt like I was the best player, and they didn’t care. Every day in practice, I got yelled at just like everybody else; in private workouts, I got pushed just as hard, if not harder, than anybody else. And even in the classroom, when I didn’t get work down, they were on my case. There was no special treatment, and I think just the fact that they pushed me and didn’t cut me slack, they wanted me to be better,” said Lillard.
That humbling experience has instilled a maturity and professionalism in Lillard that you probably wouldn’t see from a one-and-done guy from somewhere like Kentucky. Even after all the accolades, Lillard still comes off as thankful and appreciative to all those who helped him get to this point.
So far you can’t say one bad thing about the kid. He puts in the work, wants to get better even though he just had a tremendous first season and he doesn’t appear to have an entitled attitude that so many young players seem to have. These are the ingredients you want in a young player with so much potential. All this success at such a young age hasn’t gone to Lillard’s head and something tells me it never will.
Blazers Work Out Two Former Ducks
The Blazers are looking for a center to possibly start alongside LaMarcus Aldridge and while you’ve heard and read rumors about the organization’s interest in drafting guys like Cody Zeller, Kelly Olynyk and Steven Adams with the No. 10 selection, there’s also the possibility that Portland could draft for size in the second round using one of their three picks. Former Oregon center Tony Woods could be an option in the second round.
Woods certainly has the length (a 7’2.5 wingspan to be more specific) and athleticism to compete at the next level. At 6’11 and 250 pounds, Woods was often the biggest guy on the floor at Oregon and as a result, he set a new single-season school record for blocked shots (51) and ranked third in the Pac-12 for blocks (1.6 bpg).
But despite his size and athleticism, Woods averaged a paltry 3.5 rebounds per game in 18 minutes per contest last year and that was his senior season! He has good finishing ability at the rim and he can run the floor, but in order to be an effective NBA center, you have to be able to rebound and based on the statistics, Woods just doesn’t have it. Draftexpress.com has Woods ranked 60th among seniors alone so there’s little faith that the former Duck will even be drafted on June 27.
Woods showed flashes at Oregon and that potential will have NBA organizations at least taking a look at him. Legitimate size in the league is scarce so Woods has a shot at making a roster, but he will certainly have to improve his rebounding and overall low-post game to have any shot at staying in the league.
The likelihood that E.J. Singler is drafted this year is pretty slim (he doesn’t even have a draft profile on draft express), but the former Oregon standout has to be encouraged that Portland invited him back for a second workout this week (no other player has been invited back for a second time).
One of Portland’s many needs is shooting and Singler certainly can provide that. Singler played four seasons at Oregon where he averaged 10.9 points while shooting 44.3 percent from the floor and 37.3 percent from 3-point range. He has good size for a shooting guard (6’6, 215 pounds), but his lack of speed is probably the reason he isn’t projected to be taken.
While at Oregon, Singler had a knack for getting to the free-throw line when his shot wasn’t going down and he showed an ability to take contact while driving in the paint. He was also an effective passer and a good rebounder at the two-guard position. But he will struggle to create his own shot at the professional level where wing players are bigger, stronger and faster. If Singler has any chance at making the NBA, it will be as a spot-up shooter who runs off screens to get open.
His brother Kyle was drafted by Detroit in the second round in 2011 and had success this past season after playing in all 82 games. If E.J. has any notion of contributing to an NBA roster, it will undoubtedly come through the Developmental League. But teams are always looking for shooters and Singler certainly has that skill set. Based on his success at Oregon and his work ethic, I can see him contributing to an NBA bench somewhere.