Sacramento Kings give Weber State's Damian Lillard a look

By Jason Jones

McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

Published: Wednesday, June 13 2012 10:42 p.m. MDT

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Damian Lillard could be a starting point guard in the NBA next season.

That's not easy for rookie, who has to deal with keeping veterans happy and running the team while adjusting to the pro game.

But Lillard believes he is ready for the task, and that a promising career is ahead of him.

"I think I can be a really good player," Lillard said. "I think I can start in the league. All I can do is keep working."

Lillard displayed his skills for the Kings on Wednesday afternoon in an individual pre-draft workout at the team's practice facility.

While adding a young point guard doesn't seem to be on the Kings' wish list, Lillard is widely considered the best player at his position available for the June 28 draft.

For the time being, the Kings are looking for another post player or small forward. But if Kings management remain unsatisfied with the moves made by coach Keith Smart to stabilize the point guard position, Lillard might be the best option in the draft.

Tyreke Evans was moved from point guard to small forward last season after two-plus seasons as a starter in the backcourt.

Evans was replaced at the point by Isaiah Thomas, the last pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

After the switch, Denver Nuggets coach George Karl said Thomas brought "common sense" to the Kings' offense. For his part, Thomas was a second-team All-Rookie selection.

The Kings also have Jimmer Fredette who after an up-and-down rookie season is projected as a point guard. Evans also still has ball-handling duties.

That also doesn't include John Salmons running the point with the second unit, as did Terrence Williams, who is a free agent.

Lillard, a Bay Area native who played at Oakland High School, definitely has the confidence that has defined Oakland-bred point guards like Jason Kidd and Gary Payton.

Lillard, however, realizes that adjusting to the NBA won't be a simple process.

"I try not to say I'm going to do this or do that," Lillard said. "I just want to keep working, get better and see where it takes me. I definitely believe I can be a starting point guard."

Most projections don't have Lillard as a top-five pick, so it would be a surprise if the Kings took him with the fifth overall pick - unless they trade one of their current guards.

Lillard, who averaged 24.5 points and four assists last season as a junior at Weber State, said he could adjust to playing without the ball but has confidence he can get the job done a the point position.

He said he would tread carefully, though, as a rookie directing veterans. And while he's not the type to yell at teammates, he does speak his mind.

"I think I would have to come in and accept the fact I'm on a team with veterans," Lillard said. "I don't think I'd be able to come in and automatically try to take control. I think I have to do my job. I have to earn their respect by letting them see I'm a good dude, I work hard and I'm all about the team."

The Kings are scheduled to host Connecticut center Andre Drummond for an individual workout Thursday. Drummond is the first prospect considered a top-five talent that the Kings have hosted.

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