Lee Jenkins and Chris Mannix of SI.com both see Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard pushing New Orleans Hornets big man Anthony Davis for the 2012-13 Rookie of the Year award in their preseason picks.
Lee Jenkins: It's much harder for big men to assert themselves early than guards. Davis is with a young team, in a brutal conference, and he only spent one year in college. I'll go with Portland point guard Damian Lillard because he is older, he'll have the ball in his hands, and he's the rare rookie with a lot of experience running the pick-and-roll. The Blazers will bounce back this season and Lillard stands to receive much of the credit.
Chris Mannix: Ultimately, Davis will be the class of the '12 draft. His defensive instincts remind me of Ben Wallace and his offensive game will polish in time. But the ROY award often goes to the player that puts up big numbers, and I think there will be rookies who have better statistical seasons than Davis. Sacramento's Thomas Robinson has an NBA ready body and should stuff the stat sheet on a mediocre Kings team. Charlotte's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will get plenty of playing time with the Bobcats. Portland's Damian Lillard scored in college, scored in Summer League and, with the starting guard job in hand, will likely score for a Blazers team desperately in need of offensive firepower. Will they ultimately be better players? No. But, hey, remember when Emeka Okafor beat out Dwight Howard for the award in '04?
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