Yesterday, Sam Amick of SportsIllustrated.com ran down the "safe bets" of the 2012 draft class, a list of eleven prospects including Weber State's Damian Lillard. The point guard might not be the next Deron Williams or Chris Paul, but he has a proven track record of success and, as his inclusion on the list implies, doesn't seem likely to backfire in the face of the GM who tabs him. While the Big Sky conference isn't known for pumping out top-notch NBA talent each year, Lillard is unquestionably a first-round talent. Exactly how high can Lillard go? In a draft class devoid of elite one-guards, the 6'2" slasher could go inside of the top ten.
Lillard wasn't featured on national television on a weekly basis like many of his peers in the top half of mock drafts, but the guard made himself known as one of the nation's top scorers with 24.5 points off of 46.7% shooting. The junior seems to have a knack for finding the smallest of seams and attack the basket but can also sit back at knock down the long-range shot when given enough breathing room. Lillard was always an adept three-point shooter but in 2011/12, he shot 40.9% from downtown, a collegiate career best.
Scoring is what Lillard does exceptionally well, but his distribution skills could use a little bit more seasoning. Like a quarterback, a one-guard has to be able to evaluate multiple options at once, rather than lock on to just one recipient. That's not to say that Lillard is overly turnover prone, but his passing game would improve by leaps and bounds with greater peripheral vision. Lillard turned the ball over 2.8 times per contest in his sophomore season but chiseled that number down to a more economical 2.3 per game in his junior campaign.
You'll be hard-pressed to find a draft expert that doesn't consider Lillard to be one of the two best point guards in the 2012 class. The Weber State standout was also loved by John Hollinger's favorite metric as he had the second-highest PER in the nation to go along with being the No. 2 scorer. It's a two-horse race between Lillard and Kendall Marshall to be the first one-guard off of the board – expect to see the little guy beat to beat out the North Carolina floor general.