Damian Lillard was not among the Western Conference All-Star starters that were announced on Thursday. Truthfully, no one should have expected him to be. He could still be selected by the coaches as an All-Star reserve, but, even then, his aspirations may go unfulfilled. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Lillard will miss out on the entirety of the weekend’s events. There is more than one way to New Orleans.
When Chris Haynes of CSNNW asked him about the three-point contest all the way back on November 7th, Damian Lillard stated that he was interested in competing. At the time, Portland had played only four games on their schedule, over which Lillard shot 16/33 from deep (nearly 50 percent). He’s since cooled off to remain one of the hottest three-point shooters in the NBA (42.4 percent).
“Oh yeah, for sure. I think I can shoot the ball very well. I think I’m one of the best shooters in the league. There are guys like Steph [Curry], Ray Allen who are better shooters than me, probably. But I can shoot the ball with anybody in the league. I think I would be good at it. It’s like reps. It’s timing. When you’re a jump-shooter, you lose time and get fatigued real easily. I don’t really jump. A set-shot is an easy shot for me so it will be fun to do something like that.”
I would be surprised if Lillard did not receive an invite. He trails Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors by three for most three-pointers made this season (Thompson & Curry have 134; Lillard has 131), and he’s on pace to blow out his previous season best of 185 made threes, which is the record for most three-pointers made by any rookie in NBA history.
Last year the three-point competition was won by Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Irving was a second-year point guard just like Lillard is now. However; Lillard has made more threes in this half-season than Irving did all of last season, and at a higher success rate. It stands to reason that he would fair just as well, if not better, in this year’s competition.
While we’re discussing Lillard’s potential participation in the 2014 NBA All-Star weekend, let’s not forget the avenues he took to last year’s affair. As a rookie, Damian Lillard participated in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge and won the Taco Bell Skills Challenge. Since the former is for rookies and sophomores, we’ll likely see Lillard take part once again.
Actually, it’s quite possible that Damian Lillard will compete in the three-point contest, Rising Stars Challenge, and Skills challenge this year. Unless, of course, he is selected as a reserve for the All-Star Game after all. In which case, he would likely dial back his participation in other events to stave off exhaustion. The 2014 NBA All-Star reserves will be announced Thursday, January 30th on TNT.