Lillard quickly made a name for himself during his rookie year during the 2012-13 season. His rookie season was so impressive that the NBA great Kobe Bryant knew he would have a successful career.
Damian Lillard winning the 2013 Rookie of the Year
The Portland Trail Blazers drafted Lillard with the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft. Lillard had an impressive college career at Weber State, a mid-major school, and he caught the eyes of many NBA scouts. In his NBA debut, he had 23 points and 11 assists and joined Oscar Robertson and Allen Iverson as the only players in NBA history with at least 20 points and 10 assists in their debut.
As a rookie, Lillard became the lead guy for Portland and was not afraid to accept that role. He displayed how good of a scorer he was and how he can lead a team. He averaged 19 points, 6.5 assists, and 3.1 rebounds his first year and was named NBA’s Rookie of the Year. Lillard became the fourth Trail Blazer to win the award and joined Clyde Drexler as the only Trail Blazer to finish a season with a least 1,500 points and 500 assists.
Lillard also broke the all-time NBA rookie record for 3-pointers in a season with 185, and he became Portland’s franchise leader for most 3-point field goals in a season. Portland had a special player on their hands in Lillard, and his rookie season was only the beginning of an impressive career.
Damian Lillard continues to be a force on the court
After Lillard’s rookie season, his performance on the court continued to improve. In his second NBA season, he was named an All-Star. He became the first player in NBA history to take part in five events during All-Star Weekend. Lillard participated in the Rising Stars Challenge, Skills Challenge, 3-Point Contest, Slam Dunk Contest, and the All-Star game. He finished the season averaging 20.7 points, 5.6 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-2 point guard was named to the All-NBA Third Team at the end of the season.
Lillard has helped the Trail Blazers become a playoff team in the Western Conference. He has made the playoffs every year except for his rookie season. Now the Trail Blazers are trying to get that final spot in the West, and Lillard has been one of the top players during the NBA restart. He has put the Trail Blazers in a position to get into the playoffs.
Kobe Bryant gave Damian Lillard his approval during Lillard’s rookie season
Lillard is currently in his eighth season, and there’s no sign of him slowing down. There’s also no sign that he will leave Portland anytime soon. He quickly became a fan favorite and Portland, and he does not want to play for any other team. Lillard has impressed a lot of players during his career, and he impressed one NBA great during his rookie season.
The Trail Blazers battled the LA Lakers in 2013 during the regular season, and Kobe Bryant had a spectacular game. He finished with 47 points and eight rebounds as the Lakers went on to defeat the Trail Blazers. But Lillard had a great performance himself as he finished with 39 points and nine assists. After the game, Bryant was impressed by Lillard’s performance.
“That boy is serious,” Bryant said. “He’s not afraid of anything. He’s got the whole package: he’s got the three-ball, he’s got the mid-range, get on to the rim obviously. And we just had to go get him (on defense).” Lillard put on a show against Bryant and the Lakers, and all Bryant could do was give Lillard his props. Bryant knows talent when he sees it, and he saw it in Lillard during his rookie season.