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Sports Illustrated Hot On Damian Lillard as Potential 2019 NBA MVP

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Damian Lillard has started the season red-hot. The world is taking notice.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

For Portland Trail Blazers fans, Damian Lillard has always been a top-tier point guard. Even when Lillard was being snubbed for the All-Star game, or ejected early from NBA Most Valuable Player discussion, the belief in his game never wavered. Now the rest of the league is joining in on the praise.

Fresh off his first career First Team All-NBA selection, Michael Shapiro of SI.com writes that Lillard should be an MVP candidate this season:

He’s risen to the forefront once again to start 2018-19. Lillard has always been a lethal shooter from deep, able to stretch the defense far beyond the three-point line for rainbow triples. Yet the true growth this season has come near the tin. Lillard can contort his body around the trees like he never could previously, looking like Kyrie Irving-lite when finishing at nearly every conceivable angle. Lillard is shooting a career high 33.3% within three feet, a career high after a 27.2% mark in his first six seasons.

Lillard is averaging 26.6 points per game, tied for seventh in the NBA, in addition to 5.3 assists and 5.0 rebounds. His PER of 27.05 is second among starters in the NBA, just behind Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.

Shapiro also sells the idea that Golden State will win 74 games, and buys the 2018 NBA Draft class living up to its hype.