Damian Lillard: November's Top Rookie
By DHawes22 Posted in: Blazers
After dominating the Las Vegas Summer League, it was no secret that Damian Lillard
was the NBA's most polished rookie, ready to make an immediate impact. But did any of us see this
coming? By this I mean leading all rookies in scoring (19.1 ppg), 3-pt field goals (38), assists (6.1 apg), and steals (1.4 spg). As NBA.com's Drew Packham writes
, it has become increasingly difficult to continue to write about LIllard's brilliance. But just when you've seen it all, he pulls out one of the most impressive performances by a rookie point guard the league as seen.
How many ways can I write that Lillard continues to impress? In Friday's win over the Wolves, the PG had a career-high 28 points on 11-for-17 shooting (4- for-8 on 3s) with zero turnovers and, along with Wesley Matthews, willed the Blazers to the eight-point win. Lillard came back to earth in the Blazers' next two games (losses in Brooklyn and Detroit), shooting 8-for-30 from the floor for a combined 25 points. Still, no other rookie's even close to knocking Lillard out of the top spot, especially with Davis out two weeks with his ankle injury.
The stats don't lie and Damian is putting up fantastic numbers, but what's most notable about his game is his demeanor on the floor and mental approach to the game. Here we have a 22-year old kid, out of the Big Sky's Weber State being handed the keys to the Trail Blazers' offense and not batting an eye. Damian Lillard doesn't get rattled. It just doesn't happen. If it didn't happen while running through the point guard gauntlet to start the season which saw Lillard go head-to-head with the likes of Steve Nash, Russell Westbrook, Jeremy Lin, Chris Paul, and Deron Williams, then it doesn't look like it ever will. Every one in Portland should know that this isn't normal. He is not the rule, he's the exception. And it's even more incredible that he's doing playing point guard, easily the most important position on the basketball court and toughest to learn, especially for a rook.
While Lillard's most certainly on his way to becoming the NBA's Rookie of the Month for November (take that to the bank!), how does the year he's having compare to former Lottery picks? ESPN's David Thorpe
breaks it down:
Through 14 games, Lillard also has made 53 percent of his shots from 16-23 feet, making him one of the top midrange shooters this season. For comparison's sake, look at what some other point guards who were top-five draft picks did from that distance in their rookie seasons:
Derrick Rose made 43 percent, Russell Westbrook 38 percent, Tyreke Evans 32 percent and John Wall 30 percent. And, for good measure, here's what Portland's last All-Star guard, Brandon Roy, shot from this range in his best season, 2008-09: 43 percent.
Not only is Lillard's mid-range game deadly, but he's lethal from deep. I'm not sure when opponents are going to learn, but if you go under the pick and roll, Damian will burn you. The best part about his offensive game though? He doesn't have a conscious. Just as he showed against the Pistons, it didn't matter if he missed his first 10 or 11 shots, he was going to take the next open look; a true shooter's mentality.
Hopefully in the upcoming days the official announcement will come down that Damian Lillard has won Rookie of the Month honors for November, but until then, enjoy some of his most memorable moments throughout the first month of what's sure to be an amazing career.