Damian Lillard, former guard for Weber State University’s basketball team, has been named 2012-13 NBA Rookie of the Year. Lillard received all first-place votes from the panel of sports writers and broadcasters, netting him 605 points. This made him the first player to be voted in unanimously since the 2010-11 season, and the fourth overall unanimous pick. New Orleans center Anthony Davis, the player selected No. 1 overall in the draft, came in second place with 306 points.
Lillard played in a total of 104 games for the Wildcats in his four-year career at WSU. He averaged 18.6 points and 3.5 assists in an average of 32 minutes of play a game.
Lillard didn’t miss a beat adjusting from college to the pros. He averaged 19 points and 6.5 assists a game while leading the league in minutes played per game with 38.6. Lillard played in all 82 games for the Trail Blazers.
Lillard also set the rookie record for most 3-point field goals in one season with 185.
He is the first WSU alumnus to win such an award from a professional sports team, also having won each of the Rookie of the Month awards in the Western Conference.
When Lillard entered the league, he was seen as the top point guard prospect, but many doubted he would make a major impact in his first season, especially coming out of a relatively small school such as WSU. He was chosen as the sixth overall pick of the 2012 NBA draft, being drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers.
Lillard sprung right out of the gate, recording his first double-double in his debut game. He had 21 points and 11 assists. He went on to score 20 or more points 40 times, and more than 30 points five times. His career high of 38 points came against the Los Angeles Lakers on April 10. Lillard also became the third guard to have 1,500 points and 500 assists in his rookie season.
In a press release from the Portland Trail Blazers on May 1, head coach Terry Stotts said he was proud of what Lillard accomplished this season.
“It is a testament to his talent, character and work ethic that he played at a very high and consistent level throughout his rookie season,” Stotts said. “Along the way, his name was mentioned along with some of the greats to have ever played in the NBA. This is just the beginning of what is sure to be an outstanding NBA career. I know that Damian is already working on ways to get better for next season.”
Lillard is primed to continue to make a big impact in the NBA. The Trail Blazers have another high draft pick this next draft; the future seems bright for the Blazers with a player like Lillard to build a team around.