Most impressive rookie: Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers
Jumping from a mid-major college team to a basketball-crazy franchise and community desperate to be playoff-relevant again, Lillard has his team in the playoff hunt. As talented as he is, that was hard to imagine at the beginning of the season. Playing huge minutes is tough enough for a rookie. Doing so as the team's starting point guard adds a mental element that makes it even tougher. Yet Lillard continues to shine and shows no signs of letting up.
Runner-up: Anthony Davis
Davis has shown he is going to be more than just a defensive specialist and looks to be every bit the franchise player Hornets fans hoped he'd be.
Most likely to win rookie of the year: Davis
If he plays in most of the remaining games, Davis should have the requisite stats to win this award. The improved way New Orleans is playing will help, and having Eric Gordon on the court should allow for more open shots for Davis, especially in the pick-and-roll, which will give him a more regular spot on "SportsCenter." His impact on all three phases of the game, and his overall minutes per game, should trump all others.
Should Portland make the playoffs and New Orleans fall flat this spring, there will be a strong case for Lillard to take home the crown.
Biggest disappointment: Austin Rivers, Hornets
Rivers has been awful. He is struggling to make shots, including free throws. If we did not know his name or his pedigree, there is no way anyone could think he was an NBA player. He is likely the worst player in the league who is actually getting playing time. I do not expect this to continue, but the facts are the facts, and he's getting worse, not better.
Runner-up: Thomas Robinson
Robinson gets somewhat of a pass in that he's playing for a disaster of a franchise and behind some quality players. He will likely not have both of those excuses next season.