No. 3: Damian Lillard
Lillard is 32 but is coming off of arguably the best season of his career. As a result, he should be in consideration for an All-NBA team. According to Sports Illustrated’s NBA Media Awards Polling, Lillard made third-team All-NBA alongside Kings star De’Aaron Fox as the guards.
On the season, Lillard averaged 32.2 points, 7.3 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per game on 46/37/91 shooting splits. He improved as a scorer, increasing his average points per game by 8.2 from last season.
The advanced statistics will also support Lillard’s claim for an All-NBA appearance. In RAPTOR player ratings, Lillard finished the season tied as the league’s highest-rated point guard with Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic. They both finished with an overall RAPTOR rating of +7.8.
For perspective, their ratings finished 1.5 points higher than the third-rated point guard, Stephen Curry. They also tied for third highest among all positions, behind only MVP frontrunners Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic.
Unsurprisingly, Lillard finished with a negative defensive RAPTOR rating of -1.5 on the season. However, he made up for it on the offensive end, finishing with an offensive rating of +9.3. That offensive rating was an entire point above Doncic and second in the NBA behind only Jokic.
The real plus-minus numbers paint a similar picture of Lillard’s successful season. Again, Doncic and Lillard finished first and second among NBA point guards. Luka was first with an RPM of 7.25, while Lillard was second with 7.08. The only other player that was close was Kyrie Irving, who finished with an RPM of 6.97. Besides Irving, no other point guard came within two points of Doncic and Lillard.
Compared to last season, Lillard made quite the jump in RAPTOR rating. In his 2021-22 season, Lillard finished with an overall rating of +2.5. This year, he significantly increased that rating by more than five points. The RPM numbers are similar, too.
Last season, Lillard finished only 25th among all point guards with an RPM of 1.86. The fact that, defensively, both the RAPTOR and RPM statistics are similar from both seasons is just a testament to how much of a career season Lillard had on the offensive end this year.
These RAPTOR and RPM ratings suggest that Lillard should be given more recognition and award consideration but is having an underrated season due to a lack of team success.
Regardless of what direction the Blazers decide, at least one of these three players mentioned will likely be available for trade. The good news is that they have all improved their stock as a trade asset due to their respective performances this season.