ESPN's resident NBA guru Zach Lowe left Portland Trail Blazers star point guard Damian Lillard off his personal all-star team in a column published Tuesday morning.
Lowe argued that Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Chris Paul deserved the four spots guaranteed to guards. He filled out his roster with Dirk Nowitzki and former Portland Trail Blazer LaMarcus Aldridge as wild card selections.
In his explanation, Lowe characterized Lillard as similar in style to Harden, but ultimately less effective.
Lillard is Point Guard Harden -- an offense-only player who controls that half of the game when he's rolling. Opposing defenses have to extend themselves to take away Lillard's off-the-bounce 3s, just as they do with Curry, and that structural manipulation gives Portland a head start every night. He's just not as physically imposing as Harden; when Lillard's triple isn't falling, he can't compensate with pulverizing drives and heaps of free throws. If you want him in, that's fine. He falls just short here.
Lowe will not play a role in determining the actual all-star team. The starters, as determined by fan vote, will be announced on Thursday and the reserves will subsequently be selected by the league's coaches.
Lillard made the all-star team in each of the last two seasons. In 2014 the coaches voted Lillard in as a reserve, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver selected him as an injury replacement in 2015.
This year's all-star game will be played on February 14 in Toronto.
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