Who would have thought 28 games could bring so much adversity? Injuries have smashed the Portland Trail Blazers like a brick wall, with nearly everyone on the roster missing at least a game due to some form of injury.
Damian Lillard is leading the MVP race
Despite this, Portland has managed to stay strong and are sitting 4th in the Western Conference with a record of 18-10, with Lillard leading the charge. His ability to keep this team on track through this adversity is one of the many reasons he should be the frontrunner for league MVP. The others being;
Lillard’s statistics in “clutch” situations are out of this world. He ranks second in total points (82), first in FG% (min 20 shots) with a percentage of 63.2%, and third in 3P% (min 10 shots) with a percentage of 58.8%. On top of this, he shoots 100% from the free-throw line.
These stats are incredible, but you don’t even need them to see the impact Lillard makes in the clutch. From the game-winners against Chicago and New Orleans to the 18-2 run against OKC, where he accounted for every single point to win the game, you have to watch a Blazers game to realize how special this man is.
The argument has always been there for Damian Lillard being the best clutch player in the NBA, but with these stats on his side, I don’t think there is an argument to be made anymore, it’s purely facts.
With injuries to such key players such as CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, a lot has been thrown on the shoulders of Lillard. This includes running the starting unit, which currently features no one from the starting line-up last season.
Dame’s ability to get everyone else the best look possible while still averaging 30 a game is remarkable, everyone speaking of how good of a leader he is. This unselfish nature has been highlighted in press conferences lately, with Lillard making a conscious effort to talk up his surrounding cast after big performances.
Players like Gary Trent Jr, Anfernee Simons, and Enes Kanter have shone through this season, having career-best years personally. Damian Lillard’s unselfish play and trust in them has played a significant part in this success.
The definition of valuable:
The word valuable is thrown around in sports, such as someone’s value when traded or the value a draft pick may or may not have. But Damian Lillard’s value to Portland as a franchise and a city is unmatched.
As a franchise, the Blazers would be lost without him. He wins games by himself, and the idea of playing with him personally has bought players like Derrick Jones Jr and Robert Covington to the franchise. This small market has been made big thanks to one man, and that’s Dame.
And despite living in Australia and having never been to Portland, it’s obvious what Lillard brings to the city of Portland. Not only through the basketball side, but his work for the black lives matter protests in Portland over the summer and other charity work, as well as his long-standing loyalty to the city, make his value greater than the game.
These are some of the few reasons Damian Lillard should be considered the front runner in the MVP conversation. Given that he has just been snubbed of an all-star starter’s position, this will leave another chip on his shoulder for the second half of the year. Look out league.