Lillard the Unanimous Choice as Top Rookie
By Brian Martin
On Wednesday, Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard was named the 2012-13 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year, winning a unanimous 121 first-place votes from the national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. He is the first guard and only the fourth player ever unanimously chosen for the honor, joining Blake Griffin (2010-11), David Robinson (1989-90) and Ralph Sampson (1983-84).
The No. 6 pick the 2012 NBA Draft, Lillard led all rookies in scoring (19.0 ppg), assists (6.5 apg) and minutes (38.6 mpg) while playing in all 82 games for the Blazers, who finished the season with a 33-49 (.402) record - the best record for a Rookie of the Year winner since Derrick Rose and the Bulls finished 41-41 (.500) in 2008-09.
No player in the NBA played more minutes than Lillard's 3,167, but due to playing fewer games, both Luol Deng (38.7) and Kobe Bryant (38.6) edged Lillard for the league lead in minutes per game. Amongst NBA leaders, Lillard finished 12th in scoring and tied for 12th in assists. He also joined some elite company by becoming only the third player to record 1,500 points and 500 assists in their rookie season, joining Allen Iverson and Oscar Robertson.
2012-13 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year Voting Results
|Anthony Davis||New Orleans||--||96||18||306|
|Harrison Barnes||Golden State||--||1||5||8|
|Chris Copeland||New York||--||2||2||8|
Unanimous Rookie of the Year Winners
Portland Trail Blazers Rookie of the Year Winners
Lillard swept the Kia NBA Rookie of the Month Award in the Western Conference this season -- becoming just the fifth player to accomplish that feat since the award was split between the two conferences in 2001, joining LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Griffin. From 1981-2001, three players -- Sampson, Robinson and Tim Duncan -- swept Rookie of the Month honors, when only one player was honored for the entire league each month.
A look at Lillard's numbers and his ranking among his fellow rookies shows why he ran away with the monthly honors and the Rookie of the Year award.
Lillard Among Rookie Leaders
|Category||Per Game (Rank)||Total (Rank)|
|MIN||38.6 (1)||3,167** (1)|
|FGM||6.7 (1)||553 (1)|
|FG%||42.9% (27)||42.9% (27)|
|3FGM||2.3 (1)||185* (1)|
|3FG%||36.8% (16)||36.8% (16)|
|FTM||3.3 (1)||271 (1)|
|FT%||84.4% (6)||84.4% (6)|
|PTS||19.0 (1)||1,562 (1)|
|REB||3.1 (T-18)||257 (15)|
|AST||6.5 (1)||531 (1)|
|STL||0.9 (5)||74 (3)|
|BLK||0.2 (T-22)||19 (21)|
|EFF||17.3 (2)||1,415 (1)|
** Led NBA
Rookie Leaders -- Scoring
|4||Anthony Davis||New Orleans||13.5|
|5||Harrison Barnes||Golden State||9.2|
Rookie Leaders -- Assists
|4||Pablo Prigioni||New York||3.0|
Rookie Leaders -- Rebounding
|1||Anthony Davis||New Orleans||8.2|
Rookie Leaders -- Efficiency
|1||Anthony Davis||New Orleans||18.2|
The Trail Blazers had an offensive rating of 105.0 points (per 100 possessions) when Lillard was on the court compared to 93.5 points (per 100 possesions) when he was on the bench. When on the court, Lillard assisted on 36.5 percent of Portland's field goals while scoring 23.9 percent of his team's points.
Damian Lillard -- On/Off Court Summary
While answering questions during the press conference following the award presentation, Lillard stressed a desire to "tighten my game up" for his sophomore year in the NBA, with an emphasis of "bringing up my percentages as a shooter."
"I want everyone here to know that I expect more next season from myself," he said. "Because winning this award is just letting me know that everything I did leading up until this point paid off. It's not about collecting some hardware and the acknowledgement and the attention, it's just reminding me that everything I did to put myself in this position is paying off."
If there was one knock on Lillard in an otherwise outstanding debut NBA season, it is his 42.9 percent field goal percentage. Looking at his shooting performance by shot area, we can see that his shots are fairly evenly distributed between the restricted area (27.6% of his 1,288 attempts), the mid-range (26.6%) and above the break 3-pointers (36.9%).
Damian Lillard -- Shot Selection/Performance
|In the Paint (Non-RA)||33||87||37.9%|
|Left Corner 3||5||11||45.5%|
|Right Corner 3||4||14||28.6%|
|Above the Break 3||176||475||37.1%|
Lillard became the fourth point guard in the last five years to win Rookie of the Year honors, joining Chicago's Derrick Rose (2008-09), Sacramento's Tyreke Evans (2009-10) and Cleveland's Kyrie Irving (2011-12). Lillard played in more games (82) and played more minutes (38.6) than any of his fellow winners - a sign of his durability and not being slowed by the dreaded rookie wall.
All four were prolific scorers in their rookie campaigns, with Lillard trailing only Evans (20.1) in points per game. Lillard averaged more assists (6.5) than these previous winners, but ranks lowest in rebounds per game (3.1) and field goal percentage (42.9%).
Rookie of the Year Stats -- Point Guard, Last 5 Years
Looking at both the per game stats and the advanced metrics, Lillard's rookie campaign most resembles that of Chicago's Rose. Their offensive ratings are identical (105.0), Lillard's defensive rating leads Rose by 0.3 points, while Rose leads Lillard in assist percentage by 0.3 percent. Their usage rates (24.1 for Lillard and 22.5 for Rose) and PIE ratings (10.5 and 11.3, respectively) trail both Irving and Evans.
However, Lillard and Rose also played for better teams during their rookie seasons. Rose's Bulls made the playoffs in his first year, finishing with a 41-41 (.500) record. Lillard's Blazers failed to make the postseason, but did win over 40 percent of their games (33-49, .402), while Irving (21-45, .318) and Evans (25-57, .305) played for teams near the bottom of the standings.
Rookie of the Year Stats -- Point Guard, Last 5 Years
|Player||OffRtg||DefRtg||NetRtg||AST%||AST/TO||AST Rat||TO Rat||eFG%||TS%||USG%||Pace||PIE|