NBA Rookies 2012: Damian Lillard Should Be Favorite for Rookie of the Year

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 31, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 28:  Damian Lillard (R) of Weber State greets NBA Commissioner David Stern (L) after he was selected number six overall by the Portland Trail Blazers during the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft at Prudential Center on June 28, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Damian Lillard will be smelling like roses at the end of the NBA season.

Anthony Davis is near a consensus pick for Rookie of the Year. All four of CBS' experts chose Davis to win the award. It makes complete sense. Choosing the power forward with the first pick in the NBA draft had been a foregone conclusion for months.

Fans are looking for Davis to be the kind of transcendent big man that Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing and Shaquille O'Neal were before him. While he doesn't play like many of his predecessors, Davis possesses a game that melds well with today's NBA.

However, Davis is going to have a little bit of a learning curve. With Davis's height, Monty Williams might be tempted to play him in the post, but he doesn't have the kind of body that bang around with the likes of Dwight Howard at this stage.

While Williams did start Robin Lopez in the preseason, things could change come in the middle of the year.

In addition, the Hornets are stocked with another solid rookie in Austin Rivers. The 10th overall pick, Rivers has the possibility to break out. While he'll be in Davis' shadow, it could be a case of the two splitting some votes.

The biggest thing in Lillard's favor is that point guards that drive the league. Teams in the NBA are relying more and more on quick guards who can run the pick-and-roll. Sports Illustrated had an article about this and went on to explain Lillard running the pick-and-roll at Weber State.

Lillard is coming into the league having already run the offense extremely well at the college level. The league is a much different beast, but that experience is going to prove invaluable.

He had a very good summer league, averaging a league-high 26.5 points and 5.3 assists game. It's not the best indicator, but Lillard deserves some praise. Lillard continued to play well into the preseason when he averaged a little over 16 points and almost six assists a game.

The Blazers fizzled last year, but jettisoning veterans like Gerald Wallace and Raymond Felton was the right long-term direction for the team. Now with Terry Stotts, the team is starting fresh. Led by All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, the Blazers have the chance to emerge as one of the best young teams in the league.

If Portland does succeed this season, Lillard will get some of the credit. And even if Portland does struggle, Lillard will still have a player like Aldridge who can lead the team and provide a steady option.

Lillard will be the floor general. And his leadership will earn him Rookie of the Year.