With the exception of an extremely small number of reports, the Blazers Damian Lillard is expected to run away with this year's Rookie of the Year award. In fact, most feel he has already put his competition for that honor in the rear-view mirror this season.
Everyone in the BlazerNation is talking about Damian. Everyone not living under a rock in the NBA is talking about Damian. He's been atop NBA-dot-com's rookie ladder since summer league. To all but those sub-rock dwellers, he's pretty much a shoo-in for the award. Our own Mike Barrett said that after his monster performance against the Spurs on Friday night, he had sealed it; that is, as MB said, if he hadn't already done so.
Damian has won Western Conference Rookie of the Month each of the four months of this season and is poised to win it this month as well. On that note, the question becomes: Will Damian make it a sweep by winning March and April as well?
And, of course, that brings up a whole other question entirely: Has anyone ever won Rookie of the Month in all six months of the season.
The answer is yes; a few times. If Damian were to do it, he would be in some pretty darn good company.
Rookie of the Month has been awarded since the 1981-82 season, though those awards were given league-wide rather than split up to include the top players from each conference. It wasn't until the 2001-02 season when the top rookies in each conference were honored.
So, who are the other rookies to win it? Since the award was split between conferences, four players have won it for every month of the season; three from Western Conference teams:
Carmelo Anthony (Nuggets) 2003-04.
Chris Paul (Hornets), 2005-06.
Blake Griffin (Clippers), 2010-11.
Just one Eastern Conference player has made it:
LeBron James, 2003-04.
Clockwise from top left: LaBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
As you can see, and as we can remember, James and Anthony (btw, I only use last names to identify opposing players), dominated the league during their shared rookie year.
What might even be more impressive is that during the 20-season span where the Rookie of the Month was awarded league-wide, three players won it all six months of the season. Ironically, the two of those played for the same team throughout the duration of their careers:
David Robinson (Spurs), 1989-90.
Tim Duncan (Spurs), 1997-98.
Yes, there was another player who won the Player of the Month award each month of the season, but it appears that despite the season being played through April 15th that year, no honor was awarded for that last month (meaning, he only won it five times!):
Ralph Sampson (Rockets), 1983-84.
Ralph Sampson, David Robinson and Tim Duncan
We've got a little over a month before this season is in the books and Damian is certainly on his way to making that list. Sure, in the Eastern Conference, Bradley Beal (Wizards) has won Rookie of the Month twice, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Bobcats) and Dion Waiters (Cavaliers) have nabbed one, but can any of them even contend with Damian for Rookie of the Year? Furthermore, can any of the Western Conference rookies derail Damian for the final two Rookie of the Month honors?
That's extremely doubtful I would think.
By the way, each of the players listed above who have swept the Rookie of the Month contest, won the Rookie of the Year honor, sans Anthony, who lost out to James.
Two other Blazers have won Rookie of the Month honors. Arvydas Sabonis won it for April 1995-96 (remember, that was league-wide). More recent to memory Brandon Roy won it three times -- for January, February and March 2006-07.
Arvydas Sabonis and Brandon Roy
Brandon went on to win Rookie of the Year. Many might contend that if Arvydas had been able to play as a rookie the year we drafted him, the 7'3" passing specialist would have easily claimed more than just one Rookie of the Month honors, as well as Rookie of the Year.
Suffice to say, the BlazerNation is taking great pride in it's current Rookie of the Month, as it has, and continues to do in Brandon and Arvydas before him.
What we know is that Damian has four trophies on his mantle. What we think and feel is that he will have two more and then another, much larger, one after that.
In Kassandra's Words features periodic blogs throughout the year. Comments and questions are welcome and encouraged. Seasons begin and end; players come and go; our Blazers are forever. Please follow on twitter: @PDXKass