Most in the media predicted that Davis would win the award before the start of the 2012-2013 season, but the forward suffered through some tough injuries (concussion, ankle) to begin the season and ended up missing 13 of his first 19 games. Although Davis looked promising throughout the season, he never was able to take the league by storm as a 19-year-old phenom.
The 22-year-old Lillard, who came in NBA-ready and started all 82 games, exceeded all expectations and stayed consistent through much of the season. He averaged 19 points and 6.5 assists per game, while breaking the all-time rookie record for most 3-pointers made in a season (previously held by Stephen Curry) with 185. He did have some flaws, though, making a pedestrian 42.9 percent of his 15.7 field goal attempts and 36.8 percent of his whopping 6.1 3-point tries. He also turned the ball over three times and averaged just 0.9 steals – well below average for a guard who played nearly 39 minutes per game.
Given that Lillard played nearly 10 minutes more than Davis, who wasn’t given the chance to do more under coach Williams, it’s safe to say that the circumstances weren’t necessarily fair. The Rookie of the Year award is often given to the player with the best accumulation of numbers (regardless of circumstances), and Lillard – by far – had outperformed Davis in that regard. Look at their production per 36 minutes, though, and you may see a different story.
Lillard per 36 minutes looked like this: 17.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, 6 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.2 blocks, 2.8 turnovers. His true shooting percentage was at 54.6 and his PER stood at 16.4
Davis per 36 minutes looked like this: 16.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.5 steals, 2.2 blocks, 1.7 turnovers. His true shooting percentage was at 55.9 and his PER stood at 21.7 percent.
So who really had the better rookie season? Without the injuries and the limited minutes played, Davis would easily have won ROY over Lillard. Indeed, Lillard should thank Williams and Davis for allowing him to steal the award. On that note, here is Lillard’s Tweet of the Night:
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) July 20, 2013