A panel of five ESPN bloggers unanimously agrees that Portland Trail Blazers rookie guard Damian Lillard has been the league's best rookie over the first week of the 2012-13 NBA season.
Mark Haubner, The Painted Area: Lillard and Anthony Davis are so far ahead of the pack that it seems they'll compete with historically great rookie campaigns rather than their classmates. After Lillard dominated summer league, I expected him to be a top rookie, but I definitely didn't expect him to be this good: putting up Oscar Robertson-type numbers and leading a surprising Blazers team.
Beckley Mason, ESPN.com: Lillard is playing beyond his rookie experience, but perhaps not beyond his age. Franchise point guards like Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose also put up monster numbers as 22-year-olds. That's awful nice company. Suffice it to say: Lillard is making me feel real good about picking him for rookie of the year.
Steve McPherson, Hardwood Paroxysm: Anthony Davis plays the game in a physical way at a physical spot on the floor, but his strength isn't developed to an NBA-level yet, whereas Lillard already has the tools to make him successful at his position: vision, decision-making, shooting, quickness. He just looks polished. But they're very close. First co-ROYs since Francis and Brand?
Tom Sunnergren, Philadunkia: I have little doubt that when both of these players' careers are over, Anthony Davis will be widely, maybe universally, regarded as the superior player. But three games in, the nod goes to Lilliard. He's been tremendously productive, and consistent, against a pair of title contenders and the team with the NBA's best backcourt. Four years in college can help, apparently.
Amin Vafa, Hardwood Paroxysm: Lillard defeated the up-and-coming James Harden-led Rockets, who looked unstoppable before their game against Portland. Plus, every other rookie hasn't shined as brightly. With Davis' injury, Bradley Beal's slow start, and Dion Waiters' Cavs getting thumped by a Rose-less Bulls squad, the race is now Lillard's to lose.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter