We ran a weekly Rookie Rankings this season, and while the Rookie of the Year was decided sometime before the All-Star break, it remained to be seen who would join Portland’s Damian Lillard among the NBA’s top five rookies.
On Wednesday night against the Portland Trail Blazers, Kobe Bryant put on an absolute clinic in every sense of the word on both ends of the floor, playing every single minute of the game, as the Los Angeles Lakers played for its postseason life.
If you don’t believe me, just take a look at his stat-line: 47 points on 14-of-27 shooting, 18-of-18 free throws, eight rebounds, five assists, three steals, four blocks and one turnover in 48 minutes of play. That’s what you call a game for the ages.
Bryant is a student of the game who understands its history and normally is not given to hyperbole. So when he offers an evaluation of an opponent – most of whom he holds in disdain – it should not be taken with a grain of salt.
And here’s what he had to say about Portland Trail Blazers rookie point guard Damian Lillard.
“He’s spectacular … really fantastic,” Bryant said. “A lot of players get hot, but he’s got the moves, patience, intelligence, the balance on his jumpers. He’s the real deal.”
For virtually the entire season, Lillard has led all rookies in scoring, assists and free throws. But those are not his most impressive numbers, either.
As this version of our Rookie Rankings is published, Lillard leads in minutes played.
Not all rookies. All players.