Although the Portland Trail Blazers ended their season on a sour note – losing their final 13 games – point guard Damian Lillard ended his season on a high one.
On Wednesday, the NBA named Lillard the 2012-2013 Rookie of the Year with a unanimous vote. Lillard is just the fourth Trail Blazer to win the award and is the fourth player in NBA history to receive a unanimous selection (Blake Griffin, David Robinson and Ralph Sampson are the other three).
“I can’t stop smiling,” Lillard said when he was awarded the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy, according to ESPN.com.
Lillard broke Stephen Curry’s rookie record for most made three-pointers in a season, draining 185, and finished the year averaging 19 points, 6.1 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game. Amazingly, he also played in all 82 games this season.
Lillard’s play has garnered him plenty of awards all year – as he was named the rookie of the month for each of the six months during the regular season – but it has also garnered him admiration from his opponents.
“He’s fantastic, really fantastic,” Kobe Bryant said after the two squared off in a game earlier this month. “A lot of players get hot, but he’s got the moves, the patience, intelligence, the balance on his jumpers. He’s the real deal.”
By taking Lillard with the sixth overall pick in last year’s draft, the Blazers knew they were getting a good player, but after this season, they are hoping they may have a great one.
“I know that Damian’s best days are ahead of him,” said Blazers GM Neil Olshey. “This is the first step in a bright future.”
Lillard also knows not to get too excited. He’s still got a long way to go.
“I think the best thing for me is to take it all in,” he said. “Then tomorrow I’ve got to let it go. I’ve got my whole career in front of me.”