Early ROY Forecast Favors Lillard?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We don’t normally delve into matters concerning rookies, not with our main and rookie guru Drew Packham already on the case.

But it’s been brought to our attention, courtesy of Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk, that the No. 1 overall pick in the June Draft will not go into this season as everyone’s early favorite to win Rookie of the Year honors.

The player muddying up that distinction is Summer League Co-MVP and Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard, whose grind from unheralded recruit to the sixth pick in the 2012 Draft is success story that resonates from his roots in his hometown of Oakland and all around the basketball world.

We left Las Vegas with the U.S. Senior Men’s National Team in July, so the only thing we saw of the rookies is what we learned from DP’s extensive reporting and what we could gather from the games on NBA TV. The one guy we did see up close, the aforementioned No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis, looked pretty dang good in London in helping the U.S. win Olympic gold. So while Lillard will be the trendy pick for many, we’re going to stick with Davis as HT’s pick.

That said, Helin makes an interesting case for Lillard:

When I saw him at Summer League in Las Vegas he clearly was not. He was an explosive athlete. He can and did score and there were moments you pictured a Russell Westbrook like attacker. But he also showed way more polish as a rookie than scoring guards like Westbrook and Derrick Rose showed.

What is more, he goes on to a team with LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum, as well as some other veterans. He’s got a guy on the wing and an All-Star in the post to play off. Guys he can feed for open looks, guys who create lanes for him because the defense can’t help. Yes, the talent he has to face (particularly at the point) is substantially better at the NBA level than Summer League, but he is in a position to succeed.

That is, if he is given the green light. If the goal of the Blazers coaching staff is to control him and not let a rookie make decisions, he will be limited.

What about Anthony Davis, you ask? He’s going to be very good, he is going to come in as a defensive force, and in a few years he is going to be the best player out of this class.

Davis is a long, shot-blocking, rim-protecting big man but to really be effective doing that at the NBA level — to be Tyson Chandler or Dwight Howard — he must get stronger. Guys will be able to physically overpower him right now. Plus, the pace of the game and what he will be asked to do defensively will be an adjustment.

And really, you don’t win the ROY award by playing defense. You’ve got to score. And while Davis can finish around the rim and while he has some midrange game, he is not going to be asked to score much. Offense they get from him will be a bonus. Eric Gordon will lead this team on the offensive end.

Like everything else involving the 2012-13 NBA season, this race will have to play itself out on the floor. And just like the MVP race and the battle to unseat Kevin Durant as the league’s scoring champ, there should be a bevy of contenders in the mix.

But none of them bring the intangibles Lillard does to the party. His humble beginnings, on and off the court, resonate with so many people that a hot start to his season under first-year Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts could generate the sort of buzz that pushes him to the front of the race right alongside our pick, Davis.

38 Comments

  1. Ron Jon says:

    Espn has Bradley beal ranked at 170 best player in the league, yet they rank Damian lillard at 211…how does that make any sense? Especially after the summer league display put on by dlill

  2. Gordon A says:

    Royce White is the steal of the draft!

  3. SupotKayoLahat says:

    Summer League games are different from the actual NBA season games. As long as the Top pick plays on his first actual NBA game that will be fine already, much better than the other Top picks who got injured even prior to playing their first game.

  4. kuyabest says:

    I would love to see Damian Lillard win the NBA ROY! And Bradley Beal is my other favorite to win the ROY!

  5. kuyabest says:

    I would love to see Damian Lillard win the next NBA ROY; or Bradley Beal! Love them both!

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  7. nba fan says:

    Lillard reminds me of D-ROSE in his rookie seaon. the only diffrence is that when rose came to the nba he could not
    shoot consistantly from outside but lillard can shoot.

  8. MiamiFanfolyf says:

    Lillard and Davis and Tyreke evans should come to miami

    PG- Lebron james
    SG- Dwyane Wade
    SF- Damian Lillard
    PF- Tyreke Evans
    C- Anthony Davis

    MAKE IT HAPPEN STERN YEYE

  9. Bob M says:

    I like Lilliard; he’s in a great situation and is a lot of heart. My sleeper was Will Barton, as mentioned above, He is just an aggressive attacker and makes shots. He has the scorer’s mentality and the fire. Perry Jones III playing the 3 in the pros may be the next unstoppable force. He’s crazy athletic, gave up his game at Baylor to go to the post. A double dip of Durrant and Jones is a match up nightmare. I want him to succeed; I hate the way he fell so far and has proven that he has a good attitude. Anthony Davis is Marcus Camby, to me. He will do well, I just don’t think he will be ROY with the team that is around him. Coach Williams is wise to manage expectations around him.
    I don’t think it is a clear cut choice this year. I think Barton is pro-ready mentally and he can score in so many ways. I’ll take the long shot. Will Barton ROY

  10. tyrone says:

    Lillard would probably be one of the two best candidates for ROY. Davis would probably need to work on his post-game, and shooting to eliminate all oppositions for ROY. Davis would probably be a strong candidate for defensive player of the year for many years. Lillard could possibly be an all-star in his second or third year. I would have said that Kidd-Gilchrist at first but he’s with the Bobcats which is the worst team so far. MKG would be okay. While determining the steals for this season, Perry Jones III is very likely, along with Will Barton who apparently scored 72 points in the summer league. Dion is a bust, Robinson may end up being one unless he stops shooting from the perimeter and stop being a Shawn Kemp turnover machine.

  11. fanofafan says:

    I dont see why everyone is already crowning Anthony Davis ROY no rookie has done anything yet to earn that title and we wont see for another month and a half what they all can do…even then a rookie we arent expecting might outshine overrated Davis

    • hornetsfan says:

      davis isnt overrated… if anything hes under rated. all we hear about is his defense, which dont get me wrong is exceptional. but we forget that he can score too. he was on such a good team in college that he didnt have to give much on offense outside of lobs and put backs. i think in the nba hell show off his guard like offensive skills (he was a point guard just 2 years ago) and shock a lot of people on offense.

  12. ritchie says:

    watch out for this guy named Austin Rivers, he can flat out shoot and score

  13. gillidakid says:

    Everyone is over looking a silky smooth Jeremy Lamb. Along with his effortless inside and out scoring ability, athleticism, and good ball handling ability, Lamb has the length (7 foot wing-span) to be a disruptor on defense. All he’s gotta do is get bigger (only 185 at 6’5″) and he’s a bonafide scoring 2 guard for years to come. Remember he was the leading scorer for last years U19 USA men’s basketball team, one that included many of this years draft picks.

    • WhatHoohah says:

      I agree, there’s plenty more, too. I like Harrison Barnes, and think the warriors got a steal with him. Tom Rob dropping to the Kings surprised me a bit as well, he will be a monster in years to come.

      • tyrone says:

        I think Barnes could be really good while Robinson may end being one of the draft busts like Waiters, I said Robinson cause he takes too many shots from the perimeter and is a Poor man’s Shawn Kemp who is turnover prone like Lin. I heard Robinson wanted to ‘join’ the exclusive big man three point shooting with guys like Dirk, Andrea, Troy, and KL. But it shouldn’t hurt his post game severely since he can do better.

      • Krishawn-MIA says:

        Robinson surprised me also…a bust?! heck no!!! i think he will be one of the biggest surprises in this draft in terms of development he is already strong an can score

  14. Belizeboy says:

    I would have picked Kidd Gilchrist but he ended up on the Bobcats.

  15. Tdot says:

    Lillard star in the making move aside lamarcus al

  16. D Lion says:

    Go Damion and go Blazers!

  17. jeff says:

    We’re all super excited for Lillard here in Portland.
    Raymond “Cupcake” Felton was a disaster.
    His 1st game as an NBA player will be against Steve Nash. Ouch!

    • tyrone says:

      Felton and Crawford were ‘out of shape’ maybethe Blazers did bad with Felton cause RF didn’t want to play in Portland. Portland should be a playoff contender this year. Leonard may end up in the same fate that Oden ended up. Hopefully Leonard can avoid the curse. Lillard would certainly help Portland in terms of scoring.

    • zgillet says:

      At least he won’t have to worry about being defended.

  18. LBJ2 says:

    ANTHONY DAVIS SHOULD BE TRADED TO MIAMI FOR JOENL ANTHONY..

    C- ANTONY DAVIS
    F- CHRIS BOSH
    F-LEBRON JAMES
    G-RAY ALLEN
    G-DWAYNE WADE

  19. In my opinion I think Donatas Motiejunas will win ROY…he has so much talent in him…can shoot 3s can rebound can post…his game is just more complete than anthony davis…the question is will he get more playing time…but that’s just me

    • two says:

      But he’s foreign so no american pride can be aplied so people won’t give him any attention.

    • Cup Cakes!!!!!! says:

      trade davis and rivers to miami for joel anthony, draft picks and cash.
      now they have their point guard!!!!!!!
      and try some cupcakes theyre delicious

      f-davis
      f-lebron
      c-bosh
      g-wade
      g-rivers

      bench – ray allen