At the end of the week, the NBA coaches will vote on the all-star reserves. Many players have received consideration, but it is ultimately up to the coach on who will go. Some players are already guaranteed locks like DeMarcus Cousins and Russell Westbrook. There are a few players fighting for the last reserve spot on the roster whose salaries can be dependent on this vote. Damian Lillard and C.J McCollum is on this list, but if a Blazer goes, there can only be one. Does Lillard deserve to go to the game or should it be the Blazers best pure shooter C.J McCollum?
The case for C.J McCollum
The best player as of late for the Blazers has been C.J McCollum. While he has little to no odds of making the all-star game, he has proven over the last month that he is a consistent scorer who can shoot from anywhere on the floor. C.J also has 4.1 win shares which is his career high. Over the last 10 games, C.J McCollum is averaging 25.6 points and 3.6 assists. In that span he has had 3, 35 point games. He has an offensive rating of 104.2 and has a usage rate of nearly 30%. The most amazing thing about C.J McCollum is that over a ten game span he is averaging a true shooting percentage of 57.4% and an effective FG% of 54.6%. C.J is a very efficient scorer who seems like he can get off any shot he pleases. While Damian is more of a downhill player looking to exploit gaps and get to the rim or dish out to a teammate, it is so much fun to watch C.J twist and turn this way and that to get a step-back jumper over the outstretched hands of his defender. McCollum deserves to play in New Orleans next month because of his reliability, shooting touch, and how he's definitely played like an all-star over the last month or so.
The case for Damian Lillard
When you think of an all-star on the Blazers, your mind usually goes to Damian Lillard. After getting snubbed last year and how hot he started the season off, it seemed like Lillard would be a shoe-in for the all-star game; that is not the case. Lillard has had injury problems and hasn't been as consistent as he was before he hurt his hand. His shots seemingly been off, but that does not mean he will not force some shots at time. Damian has not been very good in the "clutch" this year as he shoots around 30%. Pair that with the rise of C.J McCollum and it seems like now Damian is being questioned more than ever. Damian is also a little underrated this year as well as many people consider him worse than last year because his team is struggling. This year, Damian is averaging career highs in points (26.2), rebounding (4.8), and FG% (44.5%). He has a win share of 4.8 and a PER of 23 (career high). Damian's usage percentage is 30% as well and he has a TS% of 58.3% paired with an eFG% of 51%. Over the course of the year, Damian has gotten better at driving to the hoop and finishing, and he can heat up at any moment. While some may count him out (like always), Damian Lillard deserves to be an all-star as he is one of the best guards in the league who knows how to manage his team and make everyone else better. Then again, if he got snubbed he could go off again!
Whether it be Lillard or McCollum, at least one Trail Blazer deserves to make the all-star game. McCollum has been the hotter player as of late, but Lillard has been the more dynamic player who can heat up at any given moment. Either one would be fun to watch in the All-star game, but if there is one thing that works to both of these guys favor it is that being an all-star does not require you to play any defense; an aspect that this back court has covered.
*Stats from bkref.com and stats.nba.com