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The Ringer: Lillard’s Improved Defense Bodes Well for His All-Star Chances

Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer asks if Lillard will make the All-Star game this season, with some positives to look to.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Minnesota Timberwolves Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

With the NBA All-Star Starters announced on Jan. 18, the battle for the reserve spots on each squad is the next focal point, with Portland Trail Blazers fans focused on Damian Lillard’s chances of getting selected.

Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer has 10 questions about the reserves for the All-Star game, with one of them focusing on the Blazers star:

Lillard has been on the wrong end of the cut the past two seasons despite eye-popping numbers. He’s averaging 25 points and 6.5 assists per game on 42.8 percent shooting this season, and he’s playing some of the best defense of his career. The Blazers have the no. 7 defense in the NBA, and their defensive rating is only 0.2 points higher with Lillard in the game, a huge improvement for a player long considered a sieve.

Lillard has been critical of his previous All-Star snubs, and he has a case to be upset should he be passed over again this year. He finished fourth in player voting for Western Conference guards on the last returns, which is not bad for the NBA’s ninth-best scorer.

If anything will hurt his chances this season, it is his shooting percentage. His overall shooting percentage ranks 22nd among NBA point guards, and his three-point percentage ranks 20th.

All-Star reserves will be revealed on Jan. 23.