Shaq picks Lillard for Rising Star challenge

Shaq picks Lillard for Rising Star challenge

Credit: NBAE/Getty Images

PORTLAND, OR - JANUARY 23: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers greets teammates before playing against the Indiana Pacers on January 23, 2013 at the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)

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by Michael Berk, KGW Sports

kgw.com

Posted on February 7, 2013 at 7:09 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 7 at 7:19 PM

PORTLAND -- The stellar rookie season continues to get even better for Blazers' guard Damian Lillard.

On Thursday TNT, which will televise many of the All-Star weekend festivities, held its draft for the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge.

The game has become an annual staple of All-Star weekend, and features the NBA's top rookies against the top second-year players.

Rookie team coach Shaquille O'Neal who serves as a TNT studio analyst, used his top pick overall to select Lillard.

Considering the quality of some of the second year players who were eligible, this is quite an honor for Lillard, who has been selected as the Western Conference's Rookie of the Month in each of the three months the award has been handed out this season.

Lillard leads all rookies in scoring at 18.4 points per game.

He ranks 14th in the league in assists with 6.5 assists per game, which ironically, puts him in a tie with Raymond Felton of the Knicks who preceded Lillard in Portland.

Lillard has also made 26 consecutive free throws, which is the NBA's current longest streak.

Barring injury, or a major drop off in his play over the final three months of the season, Lillard is a lock to become Portland's first Rookie of the Year award winner since Brandon Roy won it in 2007. 

Earlier in the day, Lillard was invited to participate in the Skills Challenge, becomming just the 6th rookie to take part in that event. 

All-Star weekend will take place in Houston, February 15-17.

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