Damian Lillard finished the 2017-18 season on a high note as the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Utah Jazz to secure the Northwest Division title and the 3-seed in the Western Conference playoffs. The All-Star point guard scored 36 points and contributed 10 assists with zero turnovers against one of the league’s best and hottest defenses — it was yet another excellent performance in a season full of them.
Lillard averaged 26.9 points per game this season, fourth best in the NBA. He made more free throws than all players not named James Harden or Anthony Davis and was in the top six for 3-pointers made. Portland’s leader also cemented his “Dame Time” reputation by leading the entire NBA in second-half scoring. Lillard’s performance this season was a big reason for the Blazers’ surprising success, and it’s earning him national consideration for the All-NBA First team.
Ben Golliver of SI.com’s The Crossover put Lillard on his All-NBA First Team along with James Harden. After discussing the options and the number of games Stephen Curry missed, Golliver writes:
Lillard, The Crossover’s No. 4 pick on the MVP ballot, therefore slid into the All-NBA First Team spot vacated by Curry. His stat line (26.8 PPG 4.5 RPG 6.5 APG) was Curry-like and, in an unexpected development, he logged big minutes for one of the NBA’s top defenses. The clear leader in Portland for years, Lillard compensated for a somewhat slow start with a strong second half, helping position the Blazers for home-court in the first round. He led this voter’s pack of top candidates (Westbrook, Oladipo, and DeRozan) in Win Shares, Player Efficiency Rating and scoring.
In a recent episode of The Lowe Post podcast, ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Kevin Arnovitz discuss who they plan on selecting to their All-NBA teams (their All-NBA discussion starts around the 13-minute mark and continues past the 16-minute mark):
Lowe: “I am going to put Lillard at First Team All-NBA in the second guard spot.”
Arnovitz: “I’m leaning Lillard over Paul …
“I love what Dame’s done, and I am somebody subject to a little bit of narrative in the sense that Portland … what that team has done.”
Lowe: “Just a quick Lillard thing… You know, the argument for Russ for a long time—and still has been—that they are a disaster without him. And there are lots of confounding factors there that have to do with not him and have to do with maybe him a little bit. But the same has now been true this year for Portland. And the way they stagger minutes, you could always look at the numbers—how do they play when McCollum plays without Lillard and vice versa—and the McCollum/no Lillard numbers were always pretty year. This year they’re not. This year they’re like minus 5 per 100 possessions in those minutes. It’s really, clearly been Lillard carrying them, empowering everybody else. So the indispensability argument is about equal.”
Lillard has made two All-NBA teams in his career. He was named to the All-NBA Second Team for the 2015-16 season and the Third Team for the 2013-14 season.