Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard is healthy and looks better than ever

Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Damian Lillard is healthy and the Portland Trail Blazers are red-hot.

When the offseason came and went, and the only substantial addition that the Portland Trail Blazers made to their roster was Jerami Grant, I was concerned that the team was proactively punting on another prime year for Damian Lillard.

However, one week through the 2022-23 NBA season, the Blazers (4-0) is one of two remaining undefeated teams in the league. Perhaps more importantly, Lillard looks healthy (something that he wasn’t at any point last year) and looks better than ever.

Through one week of the season, Lillard is averaging 33 points, six rebounds, and five assists per game on 50 percent shooting from the field and 40 percent shooting from 3-point range. He also has the Blazers looking more and more like a possible dark horse spoiler in the Western Conference.

How high can Damian Lillard raise the Portland Trail Blazers?

Despite Lillard’s play, I still believe there are legit concerns about the Blazers’ ceiling this season. This is not a team that is loaded around Lillard. Anfernee Simons is a rising potential star and Grant has been solid so far this season. But after that, there isn’t much star power on this roster.

Lillard is playing at such a high level right now, that hasn’t mattered. If Lillard manages to keep this level of play up for the remainder of the season, the Blazers have nothing to be worried about. However, realistically, I’m not sure that’s something Portland can bet on.

The ceiling for this team still has to be a top 6 seed in the West and a first-round playoff exit. Lillard’s hot start to the season is amazing and exactly what this franchise has needed, but it’s also a reminder of how important it is for Portland to continue building around him.

If the Blazers could surround Lillard with a second star, there’s no question that the expectations could change for the team this season. For now, Lillard’s amazingly hot start to the year is nothing more than just that.

As good as the Blazers have looked through the first week of the season, there are many concerns that I still have moving forward.

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Lillard is one of the best players in the league. It’s great that he’s healthy. It’s also a reminder of what could be. He deserves to play for a contender. Maybe the Blazers could make that happen with an NBA Trade Deadline move?