With the NBA All-Star starter pool selected, Portland Trail Blazers fans will wait eagerly to see if guard Damian Lillard is selected for the West as a reserve. Lillard made the team in 2014 and 2015 as a reserve, but missed out the past two seasons while improving his numbers. As the announcement of reserves—coming Tuesday, January 23—gets closer, experts and pundits will offer their guesses on who is selected.
The NBA on TNT crew, which consists of former NBA players Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley along with host Ernie Johnson, offered their choices, with Lillard missing:
Kenny changed one of his choices. pic.twitter.com/OkANTuoIo1— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) January 18, 2018
With everyone voting for LaMarcus Aldridge, Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green, Karl-Anthony Towns and Klay Thompson, reserve spots were limited. Smith picked Lillard at first, but realized he left off Russell Westbrook, and replaced him with the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard.
In terms of the TNT vote, the discussion becomes: Who would you pick, Lillard or Lou Williams?
Here are their basic season stats:
Lillard: 25 points, 6.5 assists and 4.8 rebounds on 42.9 percent from the field and 35.1 percent from three
Williams: 23.2 points, 5.0 assists and 2.6 rebounds on 45 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from three
Here are some advanced stats:
Lillard: 114 ORtg/108 DRtg/22.8 PER/5.1 win shares
Williams: 117 ORtg/113 DRtg/22.4 PER/4.9 win shares
Williams has caught fire the past month, winning Player of the Week on Jan. 1 and Jan. 15. The Clippers, with a 23-21 record, lost Blake Griffin from Nov. 30 to Dec. 26 due to injury, but were held down by Williams and company, and find themselves still in the playoff chase.
The Blazers, also with a 23-21 record, find themselves tied with the Clippers and New Orleans Pelicans for sixth in the West. They’ve managed with Lillard missing seven games from Dec. 22 to Jan. 1, and from Jan. 7 to Jan. 9, but look far better with their star on the court.
The All-Star reserve discussion isn’t just Lillard vs. Williams, but that may be a choice the coaches come down to if they follow the TNT crew’s voting pattern.
So, who would you pick: Lillard or Williams? And why? Let us know in the comments.