Damian Lillard is not one to shy from setting lofty goals. Prior to the 2015-16 season, he stated that the Portland Trail Blazers—rocked from the loss of four starters—had a chance to make the NBA playoffs. They did, they excelled, and now they are expected to again. This year he wants his team to make the Western Conference Finals, but he also has a goal for himself as an individual, according to Trail Blazers digital reporter Casey Holdahl:
With a field that is sure to include LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kevin Durant, and reigning Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry, this goal is indeed lofty—but not impossible to reach. Despite a lingering bout with plantar fasciitis, Lillard put up career numbers in 2015-16. Now healthy, he is in position to climb even higher and take the Trail Blazers with him.
Steve Kerr, head coach of the Golden State Warriors, stated that if his own players pull MVP votes from each other, Lillard could very well win the race, per Anthony Slater of The Mercury News:
“I think KD is kind of like Gary Johnson, a third party guy who is going to come in and take a few votes from Steph, takes some from LeBron and then Damian Lillard wins the election. That’s my forecast.”
While this is more a statement about Durant’s impact on the voting than Lillard’s chances of winning MVP, there were a number of names for Kerr to draw from to complete his analogy. He chose Lillard’s, and for good reason. Beneath the super-goliath that is Golden State, the West is wide open for a few teams to step forth and fill out the new-school upper echelon. The Trail Blazers are loaded with young, talented players. If Lillard leads them from basic relevance to the point of being a real post-season factor, there is no telling what impact that may have on MVP voting.
What do you think it would take for Lillard to win MVP in 2016-17?