Portland Trail Blazers: Will Lillard eventually make the Hall of Fame?

Portland Trail Blazers Damian Lillard (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Portland Trail Blazers Damian Lillard (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

When it’s all said and done, will Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard have strong enough of a case to convince voters he’s Hall of Fame material?

Earlier this month on Friday, September 6, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame formally welcomed nine new members into their ranks. Among them included legendary coach Al Attles, defensive juggernaut Bobby Jones, and international star turned general manager Vlade Divac. This got me thinking, when will the Portland Trail Blazers finally get another representative on that hallowed stage?

Six players in franchise history have been nominated to the Hall of Fame, however only Clyde Drexler, Arvydas Sabonis and Bill Walton spent the majority of their career with the Portland Trail Blazers (the other three being Scottie Pippen, Drazen Petrovic, and Lenny Wilkens). As you can see, this appears to be a very select group. But if any player could crack it, Damian Lillard would be the best candidate to one day join these basketball legends

As of the day this was published, Basketball Reference currently projects Lillard to have a 36.4 percent chance at making the Hall of Fame if he were to spontaneously retire tomorrow. Truth be told, these are pretty great odds considering he has many years of great basketball left to play. Even in a worst case scenario where Dame steadily declines in each subsequent season, he would probably be a coin flip toss for the Hall.

While a championship ring still eludes him, Dame has steadily racked up quite an impressive trophy case of accolades over the year. Lillard currently has four All-Star appearances, four All-NBA selections and a Rookie of the Year award under his belt. He also has the third most Win Shares in Portland Trail Blazers history and is on pace to bump up to the second spot by the end of next season. Much lesser player have earned their way into the Hall of Fame while having half the success and achievements as Dame.

In fact, only seven retired and eligible players in all of NBA history have greater odds of making the Hall of Fame than Lillard at the moment. The list includes greats like Chauncey Billups, Shawn Marion and Tim Hardaway. As Dame continues to add to his resume, the likelihood he enters basketball’s Valhalla grows only more likely.

But let’s say he doesn’t continue to improve. He doesn’t earn more awards. He doesn’t bring a championship to Portland. Would he still be worthy?

Even then, I say you’d be crazy to question the credibility of his case. No player has meant this much to entire generations of Portland basketball than Lillard. He has already inspired thousands of children to be active and involved in their communities. He has invested time and resources to helping the poor and needy. He has broken barriers and pursued personal interests outside the world of basketball.

As Neil Olshey said about Lillard back in July, “It helps when your best player is your best person. I think that’s even harder than being a great player. You can have off nights as a great player, but I don’t know that he has had an off night as a human being since he’s been here.”

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For that reason, I strongly believe in Lillard’s chances at making the Hall of Fame. He has the achievements, and will only continue to add to his resume. He has championed the city of Portland. And he has been an extraordinary spokesperson and advocate for basketball since the very beginning. These are not traits that will decline with age. Although we may be nearly a decade early with this prediction, you can count on it all the same.

Damian Lillard will one day be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.