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It’s safe to assume that just about every list you’ve seen to this point has Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Hornets as the favorite to win Rookie of the Year. Honestly speaking, putting anyone else as the favorite over this year’s first overall pick may seem foolish given Davis’ pedigree.
Nevertheless, Damian Lillard has proven again and again that he’s the real deal. The Portland Trail Blazers' point guard of the future started his NBA career on the right foot when he shared co-MVP honors with Josh Selby of the Memphis Grizzlies for his Vegas Summer League performance.
Lillard averaged 26.5 points, 5.3 assists and four rebounds per game over the course of four Summer League games.
As if that isn’t impressive enough, Lillard’s performance out on the court has been just as solid during preseason. After five preseason games, he has averaged 17 points, six assists and 2.8 rebounds per game. His points per game have taken a dip compared with the 26.5 he posted in Vegas, but his scoring efficiency is what truly stands out, which is a sign of maturity in the young guard.
During those five preseason games, the rookie out of Weber State has shot 50 percent from the field, 40.7 percent from three-point range, and 94.1 percent from the free-throw line. Those were all huge improvements from his Summer League shooting percentages: 43.8 percent from the field, 37.9 percent from three, and 89.3 percent from the charity stripe.
In college, Lillard was forced to score a lot of points to keep his team competitive. Now that he has NBA-level teammates, including All-Star caliber forward LaMarcus Aldridge, Lillard appears poised to embrace the opportunity and have a breakout year.
Davis is still the odds-on favorite for Rookie of the Year for good reason. However, Lillard’s blistering start in Summer League and preseason has raised the bar.
Other Candidates: Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal, Jonas Valanciunas, Andrew Nicholson