The Portland Trail Blazers have arguably been one of the biggest surprise packages of the NBA this season. Despite injuries to key players like CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, the Blazers are still the fifth-best team in the Western Conference. Much of this is because of the heroics of Damian Lillard.
The 5-time All-Star has been exceptional this season. Without Nurkic and McCollum, Lillard has marshaled the Blazers’ offense, averaging a career-high 30 points, 7.9 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game.
Lillard’s heroics have led the team to an impressive 10-6 record, even without their two starters. With an overall record of 18 wins and 11 losses, they have thrived in the competitive Western Conference.
Understandably, ‘Dame Dolla‘ finds himself as one of the leading candidates for the MVP trophy. His backcourt partner CJ McCollum recently made an appearance on ESPN’s SportsNation and explained why Lillard deserves the MVP trophy. He said:
“I think it’s the consistency and how he’s kind of raised his level of play each year. You could argue he was worthy of the MVP last year. Obviously, our record wasn’t as good as Giannis and LeBron and some of those guys in the running, but this year, he’s head and shoulders above the rest of the group based on individual performance. The numbers are there. They’ve gotten better. The clutch performance is insane. Like how he performs down the stretch of games. Most go ahead or game-winning baskets since he came in 2012, I think he’s at 34 and counting… So I’d say it’s him. It’s him right now.”
The 29-year-old further added, “And if he continues to sustain this level when we return, I don’t see why he won’t win MVP this season because we’ll continue to win games.”
Lillard has been unstoppable this season. Can he maintain his electrifying form?
Over the last two years, Lillard has transformed into a superstar. He is the leader of the Blazers team and has led them to some impressive playoff runs as well.
But despite being considered as one of the most clutch players in the league, Lillard has often been overlooked in the MVP race. This was evident in the 2019-20 season.
The 30-year-old had led an injury-laden Blazers side to the playoffs averaging an absurd 37.6 points, 9.6 assists, and 4.3 rebounds per game in the last eight games in the Orlando Bubble.
Throughout the 2019-20 season, he averaged 30.0 points, 8.0 assists, and 4.3 rebounds per game but was nowhere to be found in the MVP conversations. This is a trend that has continued in the All-Star games as well.
Although Lillard is arguably one of the best point guards in the Conference, he has played in only a single All-star game as a starter. This trend has continued in this season’s All-star voting as well, as Slovenian prodigy Luka Doncic got the nod as the starter ahead of Lillard.
Despite being overlooked on so many occasions, Dame has proved his critics wrong every time. It’s about time the league starts showing him the respect he deserves.
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