It’s hard to believe anyone but Damian Lillard, the 6th pick in the latest NBA draft, will win the rookie of the year award. The Portland Trail Blazers may be falling apart, maybe even tanking on the final days of the season, but it’s because of the shallow talent depth this team has, not the fantastic ability their point guard is showcasing night in and night out, putting up numbers that set him on the same level with the likes of Allen Iverson and Oscar Robertson.
Although it’s sometimes wise to disregard impressive stats on a bad team and wait for someone to actually develop into an NBA superstar, with Tyreke Evans and his rookie 20-5-5 season as a fantastic example, Lillard, very consistent, unlike most rookies, with his offensive game next to LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum on a team that’s virtually without any decent bench players, seems like the real deal.
Lillard is averaging 19.1 points, 6.5 assists while shooting 42.9% from the field and 36.9% from beyond the arc. Oscar Robertson is the only rookie in NBA history to average over 19 points, 6 assists while shooting 43% from the field and over 36% from beyond the arc. Lillard has also scored over 1500 points and added 500 assists on his rookie campaign, something only Robertson and Allen Iverson have done.
Does this mean we’re looking at a hall of fame point guard in the making? Hard to say. Derrick Rose’s numbers during his rookie season weren’t out-of-this-world, yes before the injury he won the NBA’s MVP only on his third attempt. Tyreke Evans (here he is again), did something only the likes of Robertson, Jordan and LeBron James did in the past.
For Lillard to become more than just a rookie sensation, he needs to improve, and hope his team, a talented yet very flawed group, improves around him. Point guards is what you build your teams around these days, as good as Aldridge and Batum are at the moment. If Lillard can handle the pressure of being a franchise player, we’ll be talking about more than just his exceptional rookie season very soon.