Originally written February 14, 2013 on NorthWest Sports Beat:
Will NBA hardware return to Portland? It’s been a long time since someone in Portland brought home some NBA hardware. In fact, the last to do such a thing was Brandon Roy in 2007 with the rookie of the year award. While the 2012-13 season hasn’t been the best in Portland history, there’s plenty of standouts on this year’s team. Damian Lillard has put up ridiculous numbers for a rookie, and LaMarcus Aldridge is up to his usual dominance. Here’s a rundown of Portland’s chances for the top NBA awards. Damian Lillard – Rookie of the Year, 80 percent While Anthony Davis was the early season favorite, injuries have been an issue and kept him on the court for just 35 starts this season. At this point in the season, Damian Lillard has emerged as the obvious favorite for rookie of the year. The young point guards leads all NBA rookies in minutes (38.5), points (18.4) and assists (6.5) per game. He’s also averaging 1.0 steals and 3.3 rebounds per game. His solid 16.05 PER ranks sixth amongst all rookies. No one has managed to solidify their role on the court, or put up numbers on it, better than Lillard. If there were any questions about his long-term ceiling before the draft, there certainly aren’t any now. If anyone can bring some hardware to Portland, it’s gonna be Lillard. (Photo: Jim McIsaac / Getty Images) It’s not a sure thing, but as long as Lillard stays healthy and consistent he has a great chance at the award. LaMarcus Aldridge – MVP, 15 percent In today’s NBA where the elite superstars rule, the MVP award really means “best player that season” than “player who meant the most to his team.” If it was the latter, LaMarcus Aldridge would have a great shot. Aldridge is posting a three-year low 48.5 field goal percentage, but still has a team leading 21.2 points per game. Not to mention he’s posting career highs in rebounds (9.0) and assists (2.6) per game, while tying his career high of 1.2 blocks per game. With its recent losing streak, Portland is just outside of the playoff picture—but still has some life. There’s no doubt, without Aldridge things would be much worse in Portland. Though he may deserve more respect in MVP talks than he’s getting, Aldridge is still a long-shot. Absolutely no one – Sixth Man of the Year Award, 100 percent The highest scorer on Portland’s bench? Luke Babbit with 4.2 points per game. The best rebounder? Meyers Leonard with 3.1 per game. The Blazer’s thin bench has been an issue all season long, and there’s no one in the way of a “standout.” There’s no long-shots here. No one in Portland has a shot at Sixth Man of the Year. Terry Stotts – Coach of the Year Award, 2.5 percent Even with a big coaching change, Terry Stotts has far from turned things around in Portland. It’s not Stotts’ fault, as this Blazer roster is still young and full of holes. The first-year coach has Portland in the playoff hunt and has gotten great things out of his rookies. But Portland is still sitting below .500, and Stotts has yet to find a way to get any production from his bench players. If the Blazers make the playoffs Stotts’ chances may improve, but there’s not much of a chance as is. CLICK HERE CHECK OUT OUR TRAIL BLAZERS BLOG AT THE NWSB!
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