Welcome! Login | Register
 

The Strategies to Win the White House in 2020 – The Sunday Political Brunch March 24, 2019—The Strategies to Win the White House in…

2019 NFL Free Agency – Checking In On The Seattle Seahawks—2019 NFL Free Agency – Checking In On…

VIDEO: Mueller Report Delivered to United States Attorney General Barr UPDATED—VIDEO: Mueller Report Delivered to United States Attorney…

2019 NCAA Tournament – How To Set Your March Madness Bracket Around Pac-12 Teams—2019 NCAA Tournament – How To Set Your…

March Madness 2019 – Can The Oregon Ducks Get Back To The Elite Eight?—March Madness 2019 – Can The Oregon Ducks…

I Have 3 Months To Train For The Wild Rogue Relay—I Have 3 Months To Train For The…

20 Ways To Increase Circulation—20 Ways To Increase Circulation

Trail Blazers Weekly Preview – Sabonis 2.0, Dirk’s Rip City Swan Song, Blake Of House Piston Invades—Trail Blazers Weekly Preview – Sabonis 2.0, Dirk’s…

VIDEO: ‘Surf Rock’ Creator Dick Dale Dead at 81—VIDEO: 'Surf Rock' Creator Dick Dale Dead at…

The Presidential Primary Parade Marches On - Sunday Political Brunch March 17, 2019—The Presidential Primary Parade Marches On - Sunday…

 
 

Damian Lillard’s All-Star Candidacy Is Too Close To Call

Friday, January 22, 2016

 

The NBA will announce its starters for the 2015-16 All-Star Game on Thursday, January 21, and spoiler alert: Damian Lillard will not be one of the fortunate five starting for the Western Conference. 

When the league released its most recent voting count on Jan. 14, the Portland Trail Blazers’ point guard found himself sitting in the No. 10 spot among backcourt players out West. That’s a category in which only the top two make the cut, and Lillard trailed Russell Westbrook (No. 2) and Stephen Curry (No. 1) by 504,104 votes and 1,100,670 votes, respectively. 

There’s a number of reasons Lillard hasn’t earned the fan vote. Despite his incredible knack for self-marketing, he’s suffering from small-market syndrome. Tucked away in the Pacific Northwest, he’s simply not in the spotlight for casual (and even some diehard) fanatics to recognize on a regular basis.

There’s also the fact that Lillard plays for a sub-.500 team, whereas the Westbrooks and Currys of the world are excelling on both individual and team levels. 

Lillard’s last hope, and a legitimate one at that, is to earn the coaches vote. 

The question, of course, is: Will that actually happen?

When looking at the numbers, Lillard is unequivocally performing at a top-tier level. Not only are his stats up across the board from a year ago (an All-Star year, nonetheless), but he’s also seamlessly taken on a leadership role following the departure of LaMarcus Aldridge and the rest of that team’s starting unit.

At this point in the season, Lillard is averaging 24.4 points and seven assists per 36 minutes, according to Basketball-Reference.com. Combine that with his 37.8 percent long-range shooting, and you find him in a two-man class next to just one other player who’s put up those numbers in NBA history. 

That man would be 2014-15’s version of Curry—the league’s MVP that season.

But here’s the problem with looking at individual numbers: Almost nothing in the NBA is analyzed in a vacuum. 

For instance, the San Antonio Spurs look like the best team in basketball when you watch them on any given night. The problem with claiming them as such, in spite of their unworldly and often historically great numbers, is that there’s a group from the Bay Area you may have heard of doing everything in its power to become the greatest team the league has ever seen.

Despite Lillard’s impressive 2015-16 showing, there are a myriad of other players who also deserve All-Star nods. Assuming (based on the third return of voting numbers) that the starting lineup comprises Curry, Westbrook, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, we’re left with a myriad of players who have the talent and numbers to fill seven reserve spots.

Where do guards such as Chris Paul, Klay Thompson and James Harden fall into the mix? How about forwards such as Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard and Blake Griffin?

And is it possible to ignore young talents such as Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, or even old timers Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan?

If you ask Lillard, as NBA.com did following a recent strong stretch, “I thought I had a good couple games, but I don’t think I solidified a spot.” That statement isn’t surprising considering he was one of the biggest snubs last season before earning his stripes as a backup due to injuries. 

Allen Crabbe, on the other hand, has a far more definitive answer to the question of whether or not his teammate deserves to get in. 

“I definitely feel he’s an All-Star,” the third-year wing said (linked above). “You look at what he did against [Paul, Westbrook and Curry consecutively] that are top point guards in the NBA; I definitely feel he’s proven himself.”

Unfortunately for fans of Lillard, Crabbe isn’t in charge of choosing All-Star reserves. And there’s a strong chance that being on a losing team (albeit, an overachieving one) ultimately ends up working against him. 

But as Oregon Sports News’ Elle Uecker recently penned, the reason he’s being overlooked in so many discussions may actually be the same reason he ultimately deserves his run at All-Star Sunday.

“Lillard doesn’t seem to be getting the support he needs on the court to close out games,” Uecker wrote. “When he’s on, it seems like everyone else is off.  The team isn’t jelling quite like it has in the past and it’s getting harder to watch games slip away.  But these struggles are what make Lillard’s epic comebacks and scoring streaks all the more dazzling.  He refuses to be broken by a disappointing season.  He shows up every day and leaves it all on the court, and that’s a characteristic of a true all-star.”

Should Lillard miss out on this year’s festivities, it doesn’t appear he’ll be bothered by it to the extent he was a year ago when he was initially snubbed. "I'm kind of at the point now where I don't need the validation," Lillard said, according to The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman. "It would be great. I want it. But it definitely won't be the same reaction as last year."

Content with the outcome or not, Lillard can take pride (although he certainly won’t if we know him at all) in the fact that he is a perennial consideration even if the label of perennial All-Star disappears with an omission this year. 

But then again, that label isn’t out the window just yet. NBA coaches have seen what Lillard can do as a No. 1 option this season, and we’ll find out where they rank his efforts compared to his peers when reserves are announced Thursday, Jan. 28.

*Statistics are accurate going into games on Wednesday, Jan. 20.

GoLocalPDX partner Oregon Sports News: Since 2011, Oregon Sports News has provided entertaining, hard-hitting local sports news & commentary every weekday. To read more from this author, check out Oregon Sports News by clicking here.

 

Related Slideshow: 12 of the Greatest Sports Movies of All Time

Hank Stern ranks his top twelve favorite sports films. 

Prev Next

#12 Rollerball

Some of the non-athletic scenes in this dystopian classic show their age, but Rollerball is a strangely prescient film that anticipated both the corporatization of sport and fans’ limitless taste for violence. Bonus points for the ominous intro music.

Prev Next

#11 A League of Their Own

A comedy that looks back to the antithesis of corporate sport – a women’s baseball league during World War II with many memorable lines to choose from (e.g.,”There’s no crying in baseball.”)

Prev Next

#10 Remember The Titans

Yes, filmmakers took liberties with some of the facts dealing with the integration of a high school football team in Virginia. But there’s a reason football teams often screen this film on the eve of big games. It’s a damn inspirational tale.

Prev Next

#9 The Natural

This film has grown on me over time. Originally, it seemed slow and schmaltzy. Now, it seems well-paced and charming. Then and now, the re-created scenes of pre-World War II ballparks arrive like perfectly preserved postcards from the past.  

Prev Next

#8 The Longest Yard

Not the remake with Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. But the hilarious original with Burt Reynolds and Eddie Albert as a wonderfully villainous warden who pits the guards against the inmates in a grudge football game that includes former Green Bay linebacker Ray Nitschke and other ex-football players like Sonny Sixkiller and Joe Kapp, both stalwart Pac-8 quarterbacks long, long ago.  

Prev Next

#7 Slap Shot

The Hanson brothers. Enough said.

Prev Next

#6 Rocky

Often imitated, but never replicated. The definitive underdog boxing story featuring Sylvester Stallone before he became a self-caricature in multiple sequels. Impossible to hear the theme song without being motivated to get off the couch.

Prev Next

#5 Seabiscuit

A fantastic book as well as a great movie. Like “The Natural,” Seabiscuit captures its Depression-era setting for modern-day viewers taken back to an era when horse racing actually meant something in America. 

Prev Next

#4 Requiem for a Heavywei

A too often-forgotten film these days but a wonderful boxing drama that shows the sport’s underside with memorable  performances by Mickey Rooney, Jackie Gleason and Anthony Quinn.

Prev Next

#3 Hoosiers

Want to know something about small-town America in the 1950s and about Indiana basketball? This hoops movie does all of that with a healthy dose of redemption throughout. 

Prev Next

#2 Bull Durham

There’s a pretty good case to be made this movie played a huge part in the rebirth and re-marketing of minor league baseball. As written by former minor leaguer Ron Shelton, there are many great scenes to choose from but this one is a favorite. 

Prev Next

#1 Raging Bull

A rags-to-riches-to-rags story of boxer Jake LaMotta meets the actor born to play him, Robert De Niro. Not a false moment in this black-and-white powerhouse.

 
 

Related Articles

 

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

 

X

Stay Connected — Free
Daily Email