NEW YORK – The Toronto Raptors’ Jonas Valanciunas and the Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard today were named the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month, respectively, for games played in March.
Valanciunas ranked first among Eastern Conference rookies in rebounds (7.3 rpg), blocks (1.07 bpg), and field goal percentage (.620). He also ranked second in free throw percentage (.822) and fourth in scoring (11.4 ppg), reaching double figures in points in 11 of his last 12 games (March 6-31). Valanciunas is one of only two rookies (New Orleans’ Anthony Davis) in the NBA averaging at least 8.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and shooting 50 percent from the floor this season.
Lillard, winner of his fifth consecutive Kia Rookie of the Month award, led all rookies in scoring (21.3 ppg), assists (6.8 apg), field goals (119), three-pointers (42) and free throws (61). In March, he became one of only four rookies in league history to record 1,390 points and 475 assists. Lillard also tied the all-time NBA rookie record for three-pointers in a season with 166.
Here is a recap of the month for Valanciunas and Lillard:
Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors
March 20 @ Charlotte: Posted 18 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two steals in a 115-110 win over the Bobcats.
March 29 @ Detroit: Recorded 20 points, four assists and tied a career-high with six rebounds in a 96-95 loss to the Pistons.
March 31 @ Washington: Tallied 26 points, three assists and two rebounds in a 109-105 loss to the Wizards.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
March 8 @ San Antonio: Had 35 points, nine assists, three rebounds and two steals in a 136-106 victory over the Spurs.
March 14 vs. New York: Posted 26 points and 10 assists during a 105-90 win over the Knicks.
March 21 @ Chicago: Posted 24 points, four rebounds and seven assists in a 99-89 victory over the Bulls.
Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month were New Orleans’ Anthony Davis and Orlando’s Maurice Harkless.
Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month
For the first time, the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month are part of a series of on-court performance awards called “The Kia NBA Performance Awards.” The series, currently in its sixth season, is part of a multiyear marketing partnership between Kia Motors America and the NBA, and includes five of the league’s most prestigious year-end honors: Most Valuable Player Award, Defensive Player of the Year, Sixth Man Award, Most Improved Player Award, and Rookie of the Year. It also includes the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month during the regular season. Kia Motors is the Official Automotive Partner of the NBA and the Kia Optima is the league’s Official Vehicle. For more information on the “The Kia NBA Performance Awards” visit www.NBA.com/awards.