Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports writes that Damian Lillard, who is running away with Rookie Of The Year honors as we near midseason and is a shoe-in to represent the Trail Blazers at the "Rising Stars Challenge" (that's what they're calling the Rookie/Sophomore Game these days), also has an outside shot of making the big game at All-Star Weekend
in Houston next month.
Damian Lillard, the Portland Trail Blazers' rookie point guard, would like to end that streak. He's made a growing case for himself this season, most recently with a 37-point performance against the Golden State Warriors.
"That says everything when Michael Jordan was the last guard to do it," said Lillard, who was born in 1990.
Lillard has already established himself as the likely choice for Rookie of the Year based on his work in the first half of the season. He's averaging 18.5 points, 6.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds. He has been named the Western Conference's Rookie of the Month for November and December and has eight games of at least 20 points and seven assists. He's also helped the Blazers, who finished 28-38 last season, to a winning record.
"Any time a rookie is playing at the level he is playing at with the poise that he is playing with, it's going to grab everyone's attention," Sacramento Kings coach Keith Smart said. "Are all the Western guards playing at a great level? Chris Paul is at a super level. [Russell] Westbrook is in there. All those guys keep moving up. Can [Lillard] possibly be there based on where he is right now? Maybe, maybe not.
"But his team is winning, he's playing at a great level, and everybody sees the poise as a young point guard and how he runs a basketball team. So it heightens people's attention and the possibility depending on how the votes go."
Spears notes that Lillard would be the first rookie since Michael Jordan to make the All-Star Team. It's a real long shot, but you never know. Even being a small part of the conversation is an honor for a rookie.