Blazers

Ja Morant thanks Damian Lillard for paving the way for his NBA career

Blazers

In many ways, Ja Morant and Damian Lillard share a lot of similairities. 

Both of them were NBA Rookie of the Year award winners. They both have embraced being the face of small-market franchises. They both play highly entertaining basketball at the point guard position.

They also both come from smaller colleges before being selected in the top-six of the NBA Draft.

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The Memphis Grizzlies Twitter mentioned that shared upbringing and the Grizzlies point guard added his appreciation for Lillard paving the way for players like himself.

When the Trail Blazers selected Damian Lillard sixth overall during the 2012 NBA Draft, it began a run of similar guards from smaller schools getting selected in the lottery. 

In fact, Lillard was the first guard from a mid-major to get selected in the NBA Lottery since Stephen Curry went seventh overall during the 2009 NBA Draft.

Since Lillard's selection, four guards have been taken inside the NBA lottery: CJ McCollum (10th, 2013), Elrid Payton (10th, 2014), Cameron Payne (14th, 2015), and Ja Morant (2nd, 2020).

Thanks to players such as Lillard, McCollum and Morant, under-scouted players coming out of high school know their dreams of being an NBA player are not over with enough hard work.

It's only a matter of time before another highly successful guard credits Ja Morant for inspiring him while he grinds for a mid-major college.