SLAM, online arbiters of everything cool and fashionable about professional basketball, is running down their list of the Top 50 players in the NBA. Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard showed up as the 16th ranked player in the league.
In an extensive write-up full of praise for the fourth-year guard, they explain why they love and pity him in equal measure:
Lillard is a man on an island playing in an unforgiving Western Conference where you need no less than 45 wins to even sniff the Playoffs. Looking at the roster, it's a safe bet the only thing Portland will be smelling after this season is lottery balls.
Lillard will most likely lead Portland in scoring, assists and steals, as well as field-goal, three-point and free-throw attempts—also turnovers. But all of that is to be expected given the personnel on the team. With the SLAM Top 50 voting criteria of "expected contribution to a team, the NBA and the game," Dame should probably be a little higher on this list.
But winning still counts at SLAM, and Portland probably won't be doing a whole lot of that in 2015-16. Still, the Blazers will be an interesting team to watch and Lillard will be must-see TV.
Lillard ranks just above Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson on the list, in the general vicinity of Kevin Love, Dwight Howard, and Jimmy Butler, well above fellow point guards Rajon Rondo, Eric Bledsoe, Kyle Lowry, and Tony Parker.
Hat tip to the indefatigable Dan Graves for getting this into the Fanshots.