The Portland Trail Blazers surprised even the most wizened NBA veterans last year, rising on Damian Lillard's superb play to virtually forget that LaMarcus Aldridge had packed his backs for San Antonio. The Blazers and Lillard are out to prove the 2015-16 season was no fluke, as the team won 44 games and stretched the eventual Western Conference champion Warriors to five games in the playoffs.
Lillard has long spoken of his desire to be considered one of the NBA's elite guards. It's a competitive position, with probably more stars per team than any other role. But Lillard made his powerful case last year. Now even in preseason defeat this season he shows signs of how he's approaching the game. Lillard made just one of ten shots in a mere 18 minutes in a preseason loss to the Nuggets this weekend. Forget about the percentage, though, and the lack of makes. Focus on this instead: Lillard got off ten shots in 18 minutes. NBA 2016-17: he's ready to go.Most INTERESTING FINDS on Amazon]