There are a handful of guys who could have challenged Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard for NBA Rookie of the Year.
However, not only is Lillard good, he's also been pretty lucky this season.
Consider this: Lillard was drafted by a Blazers team with a clear need at point guard and no definable backup. He's been the man from the get-go and hasn't had to share minutes or shots.
Damian has also been healthy for the entire season and has started every game for Portland.
Not only that, Lillard's key teammates have also stayed healthy all year long. How much more difficult would it have been if fellow star LaMarcus Aldridge had missed major time? What about supporting cogs like Nic Batum, J.J. Hickson or Wes Matthews?
Conversely, the Blazers' starting lineup has stayed mercifully intact. That's good for a rookie like Lillard and a godsend for a bench-deficient team like Portland.
This is not to take anything away from Lillard whatsoever. His rookie numbers, maturity and confidence have put this season in rarified air and portends legitimate stardom.
However, any of the aforementioned variables could have changed his chances in a big way.
Whether it's opportunity, good health or solid starting teammates, Lillard has both made his own destiny and had good fortune.
The good news is both players are going to be shining NBA stars for a long time to come.
Damian Lillard won this battle fair and square by being in the right place at the right time.
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