The dust has settled from the Trial Blazers’ exit from postseason competition. Free agency, roster construction and the NBA Draft have crept into everyday conversation in Rip City. Before we turn the page on the longest season in the Blazers’ 50-year history, let’s take another look at the players that populated the roster during that journey.
Our second-to-last installment looked at Damian Lillard’s backcourt partner CJ McCollum. Today, we wrap up our season review series by focusing on Lillard himself.
Games: 66 (66 starts) | PTS: 30.0 | AST: 8.0 | FG%: 46.3 | 3P%: 40.1
Lillard, who crossed the 30-years-old threshold at the tail end of last season, proved that the age listed next to his name wasn’t the only indicator that provided proof that he has entered his prime years. Regardless of the team-wide struggles that surrounded him during the 2019-20 season, Lillard posted career-high figures in points, assists, three-point percentage and field goal percentage.
Built on a foundation of unstoppable scoring and limit-less shooting range, Lillard produced three 60-point performances last season. That feat puts him in elite company alongside NBA all-timer Wilt Chamberlain. When factoring in Lillard’s size and position, it is clear that the former Weber State star has carved his face on to the Mount Rushmore of the best pound-for-pound scorers in the league’s history.
Starting in late January, Lillard put together a nine-game run of unbelievable scoring. In those nine outings, he averaged 42.4 points per game on 51.9 percent shooting from the field. Lillard’s efforts did not go unnoticed, during that stretch he earned back-to-back NBA Player of the Week honors.
Inside the bubble, Lillard showcased his penchant for performing at a high level when the pressure is on (forget about that ending to the Clippers game). In Portland’s eight seeding contests, he met or crossed the 30-point threshold on five occasions (that run included a 50-point game and a 60-point game). Lillard’s output earned him Bubble MVP honors and, more importantly, the Blazers claimed the final postseason spot in the Western Conference.
Following the regular season, Lillard and Clyde Drexler are now the only names inside the top five of the Blazers’ best single-season scoring average leaderboard (Kiki Vandeweghe now sits at No. 6). Inside that top five, Lillard’s 30-point average sits at No. 1, just above Drexler’s 27.2 points per game average from the 1988-89 season. Moving forward, Lillard is in prime position to move up the Blazers’ all-time leaderboard next season. Barring something unforeseen, Lillard should move past LaMarcus Aldridge on the games played and field goals made lists.
Outside of the Blazers’ leaderboards, Lillard finished on the All-NBA Second Team and slid into the No. 8 spot in MVP voting (not a small feat when you consider that the Blazers finished the season below .500).
Individual production aside, Lillard’s elite level of play makes the screams for a stronger supporting cast deafening. The Blazers have exited the postseason in the first round in four of Lillard’s seven trips to the playoffs. Next season, with Jusuf Nurkic set to start the season at full strength, Portland has an opportunity to begin play in 2020-21 with all three of their organization’s pillars on the floor. As of now, Lillard is expected to be ready for next season following a right knee sprain that shortened his stint in the bubble by a single game.