by Tracy Weissenberg / @basketballista
The most striking thing about rookie Damian Lillard is that he already plays like a veteran. Winning plays are now the norm, if not expected, such as calmly walking the ball up the court and sinking a game-winning three like he did December 16 vs New Orleans—or scoring a team-high eight fourth-quarter points Friday, in a win against Atlanta, on the second night of a road back-to-back.
Besides the day-to-day plays that earn him the trust of his teammates and coaching staff, Lillard’s season has found company among some of the League’s elite. His averages of 19 points and 6 assists have been matched by three other rookies in NBA history: Oscar Robertson, Damon Stoudamire and Allen Iverson.
This season, Lillard is one of four players averaging 19 and 6, while shooting at least 36 percent from three. The others are LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Tony Parker, though it should be noted Parker attempts one three per game compared to over six for Lillard.
The Blazers, after winning two straight, are 11th in the West, and 2.5 games behind the 8th-seed Lakers. The four-time Western Conference Rookie of the Month says that while he is honored by the accolades, “We want to try to make a run for the Playoffs, so I’m more concerned with that right now.”
Spoken like a veteran.