2021 All-Star votes open this week. Though there may not be an All-Star game, how will Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum fare when it comes to getting votes?
The NBA has announced that there will still be All-Star selections in 2021, even if they cannot get a game across the line because of COVID-19. For the Portland Trail Blazers’ two best players, in CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard, how likely are they to be voted as All-Star’s this season?
McCollum has never been selected as an All-Star, mainly because of the stacked Western Conference. In the West’s backcourt, he has always been competing against Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, and his own teammate Lillard.
This meant that CJ was almost certainly never going to be selected as an All-Star in the West. What has changed this year though, is that Thompson is out for the season, Paul is having a down year, and Westbrook is in the East.
This leaves just Curry and Lillard as premium competition, with CJ just needing to match up with some of the younger guards to be selected.
He now has to be ahead of Donovan Mitchell and Devin Booker, with very little chance of being ahead of Luka Doncic. Because of both Mitchell and Booker being in small markets, they likely won’t get massive amounts of fan votes, but Luka may be the leading back-court member, maybe even ahead of Curry.
McCollum breakout year, where he is averaging almost 30 points a game on career-high efficiency, probably means he has his best bet of making the All-Star team for the first time.
For Lillard, he is likely to be a lock now. In the past 12 months, Lillard has not only elevated his game, but he has put himself on a level publically, where he now plays at a superstar level and has that type of hype nationally.
Lillard wasn’t on this type of pedestal before the 2019/20 season. By averaging 35 points per game in the bubble, and then 35 in January as part of his epic six-game run, he is now recognized as a legitimate high-level star in the NBA. His clutch ability has been at another level too, as we detailed this week.
Only Curry and Doncic are likely to garner more votes than Lillard in the fan voting, and the media and players will give Lillard a strong push too.
You have to go back to 2014/15 when LaMarcus Aldridge was selected, to see the last time two Blazers made the All-Star game. But, Lillard and McCollum have a great chance this year to emulate this. As the best back-court by far in the NBA, this would be a great reward for their years of playing in a small market without a lot of recognition.