Lillard's Name Mentioned In Early Postseason Accolade Voting
Much of the narrative surrounding Damian Lillard during the 2017-18 season concerned his (some would say) snub from the 2017 All-Star Team, and whether Lillard would go under appreciated yet again. But through an increased level of play, and a better than expected season by his Trail Blazers, Lillard found himself an All-Star for the third time in his career.
Since achieving that milestone, talk has shifted to Dame’s name being included in first team All-NBA and MVP lists, both honors he has yet to receive. So with tensions mounting as postseason play begins, Lillard is poised to shift into a new gear and solidify his name alongside the greatest current players in the league. Talking heads around the country seem to anticipate that, and here’s what they have to say.
Lillard himself, in a wide-ranging feature from SB Nation’s Paul Flannery, didn’t mince words:
Dame hasn’t entirely stopped fighting for validation, even if that pursuit isn’t his sole drive. At the all-star break he declared he was as good as any point guard in the league and he has not backed off that stance.
“I should be first team All-NBA,” he says. “That’s how I feel. But I also feel like, this is how it’s going to be.”
It’s worth mentioning Flannery has Dame in his first team All-NBA ballot.
Ben Golliver in Sports Illustrated has Lillard first team, as well as fourth in line for MVP:
The clear leader in Portland for years, Lillard compensated for a somewhat slow start with a strong second half, helping position the Blazers for home-court in the first round. He led this voter’s pack of top candidates (Westbrook, Oladipo, and DeRozan) in Win Shares, Player Efficiency Rating and scoring.
Writing for The Ringer, Kevin O’Connor nudged Russell Westbrook and his triple-double average above Damian, knocking Lillard down to second-team All-NBA:
Lillard is a lock to make it at guard, so it was a matter of finding the right team for him. I gave him an edge over DeRozan because of his superior scoring efficiency and playmaking. Lillard channeled 2015-16 Steph Curry for a few weeks to propel the Blazers into the West’s 3-seed. DeRozan’s scoring has regressed over recent months, but his midseason explosion is a big reason Toronto is the no. 1 seed, and he’s sustained his improved passing. I’m excited to see whether the playoffs are different this time around for him.
At ESPN, Zach Lowe get the jokes in before the inevitable, placing Dame in his first team vote as well:
Portland is slumping too, but Lillard dragged them to a winner-take-all showdown with Utah on Wednesday for the No. 3 seed. Portland has been toast all season when Lillard sits. He is their lifeline, and he snags the last spot here.
All three ProBasketballTalk writers were unanimous in voting Dame for first team.
Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post has Lillard first team All-NBA as well as fourth in his MVP ballot, between Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant.