Portland Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard is a darkhorse candidate for 2019 NBA MVP. If if the Blazers are going to earn any league-wide awards this season, Frank Urbina of HoopsHype says Lillard provides their best shot. Urbina runs down all 30 NBA franchises, pinpointing their most obvious hope for national accolades. Awards range from Rookie of the Year and Most Improved Player to the big one.
Urbina quotes Lillard’s famous assertion, “I’m one of the best players in the NBA. Tell me how I’m not.” He supports the sentiment, then drops the hammer that it’s still not good enough to get Lillard into the MVP conversation:
Of course, Lillard is absolutely right in his sentiments. He ranks 10th in the league in scoring at 26.2 points per game, while chipping in 6.6 assists, 1.2 steals and 2.9 threes per contest. With him on the floor, the Portland Trail Blazers are an astronomical 14.5 points per 100 possessions better than when he sits. And among players with at least 500 possessions as the pick-and-roll ball-handler, Lillard’s 1.083 points per possession ranks 1st overall according to Synergy Sports.
He may not be a legitimate MVP candidate, but there’s zero doubt Lillard is one of the Association’s very best players.
Presumably, this means Urbina thinks the Blazers will go void in individual national awards this year.
Urbina lists Blake Griffin, James Harden, LeBron James, and Giannis Antetokounmpo among Lillard’s competition for the award. He also has a ton of takes on Most Improved Player and a couple interesting views on Coach of the Year.