With his speed, athleticism and overall exciting brand of basketball, Portland Trail Blazers rookie Damian Lillard has garnered plenty of attention early in his NBA career. So did Derrick Rose in his rookie year.
Lillard not only welcomes the comparison between him and the former NBA MVP, he invites it. According to Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago, Lillard models his game after Rose by studying him on film.
"I watched a lot," Lillard said before Sunday night's game. "The thing that stuck out to me is how well he uses his speed and athleticism and changes pace. He gets from zero to 70 like this (snaps fingers). I've been watching that for a while so certain things that I've seen him do let me know that it can be done with my ability to jump and run fast."
For a player with a similar basic skill set, Lillard is wise to follow in the footsteps of Rose, one of Chicago's most beloved athletes. And thus far, Lillard has done well to replicate Rose's production. He has averaged 19.3 points, 6.4 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game through 10 games this season.
"Very impressive," Thibodeau said of Lillard. "His skill set makes him very hard to guard. His ability to shoot the ball sets everything up, very clever in the pick and roll, plays with a lot of poise for a rookie."
Lillard and the Trail Blazers are 5-5 this season after defeating the Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls Sunday night.