Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard was named the winner of the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award on Thursday, just edging out Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul after voting by more than 300 NBA players.
The award, named after Hall of Famers Maurice Stokes and Jack Twyman and their legendary friendship, is given to a player who is deemed the league's best teammate -- an honor determined by "selfless play, on and off court leadership as a mentor and role model to other NBA players, and commitment and dedication to team."
Lillard, who received 40 first-place votes, and Paul, who finished just 11 points (1,012-1,001) behind Lillard for the honor, were two of 12 players nominated for the award, along with (in voting order): Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem, Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, Dallas Mavericks center Boban Marjanovic, Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris, Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon, New York Knicks guard Theo Pinson, Denver Nuggets forward Paul Millsap, Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles, Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris and Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns.
The nominees were selected by panel of league executives, with six coming from each conference.
Lillard, who averaged 28.8 points, 7.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds in 67 games during the regular season, is the ninth player to win the award, which was first presented during the 2012-13 season. He was preceded by Chauncey Billups, Shane Battier, Tim Duncan, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, Jamal Crawford, Mike Conley and Jrue Holiday.
The award became permanently linked after Stokes was injured in the final game of the 1957-58 regular season. He eventually fell into a coma and was permanently paralyzed. Twyman, his teammate with the Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings), became his legal guardian and advocated for and supported him for the rest of his life.