Damian Lillard is the presumptive Rookie of the Year this year after he has put in a strong 19.1 points per game and 6.5 assists per game for the Blazers. His efficiency and shooting could certainly use improvement, but the guy is only 21 years old and has lots of room for growth.
Paired alongside LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland has climbed back into the Playoff race quite unexpectedly. It still seems like the Blazers are a long shot to get to the postseason, but applause should go to them for rallying and making this run.
An individual honor for Lillard certainly seems deserved. So where does his season rank among the pantheon of NBA rookies?
If Lillard keeps on his pace, he will become just the fourth rookie in NBA history to average 19 points per game and six assists per game in his rookie season. Who else is on that list? Allen Iverson, Oscar Robertson and Damon Stoudamire. That seems like pretty decent company for the rookie from Weber State.
Lillard has also added a 54.9 percent true shooting percentage, showing that he can also get to the line in addition to being able to put the ball in the basket at a decent rate for a rookie. Among rookie guards, the 19 points per game and 54 percent true shooting percentage would make him just the fourth wing player in the last 23 years to accomplish that.
Others on that list are Grant Hill, Michael Jordan and Mitch Richmond. There are several other players who hit that mark as post players like Shaquille O'Neal and Blake Griffin.
Lillard is hitting some marks of historic proportions this season. But he still has a lot of work to improve obviously.
Lillard is shooting 43.2 percent from the floor and 37.1 percent from beyond the arc. As Basketball-Reference notes, most of his shots right now are 3-pointers and his shooting heat maps indicate he takes most of his shots from the top of the arc or near the basket.
If Lillard can increase his efficiency from beyond the arc and get to the basket more -- only 284 of his 1114 field goal attempts have come at the rim according to Basketball-Reference -- he will be a much better player. And that is scary, because even as a rookie, he is pretty good.
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