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Lillard’s MVP Candidacy Rooted in Blazers’ Team-Wide Improvements

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The Washington Post’s Ben Golliver listed Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard as his pick for MVP in the upcoming season.

Portland Trail Blazers v Oklahoma City Thunder Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard put together a career-best season last year and finished in eighth place in MVP voting. This season, Lillard is positioned to improve upon his stellar 2019-20 campaign. In his NBA awards predictions, The Washington Post’s Ben Golliver tabbed the former Weber State standout as his MVP pick.

Golliver explained that it is unlikely that Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo will complete an MVP three-peat and the Blazers’ team-wide improvements could push Lillard into the spotlight.

Bet against an MVP three-peat for Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo. Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Larry Bird are the only players in NBA history to win the award in three consecutive years, and some voters will surely hold the Bucks’ past two postseason flameouts against Antetokounmpo even if he turns in another worthy campaign.

Lillard is a bit of a long shot according to the oddsmakers, but he reliably posts monster numbers and has guided Portland to seven straight playoff trips. With a deeper roster around him, Lillard could catch voters’ attention if he leads Portland to a top-three seed in the West. From the all-important narrative standpoint, it doesn’t hurt that he’s arguably the NBA’s most media-friendly superstar and a loyal representative of a small-market franchise.

Last season, Lillard averaged 30.0 points and 8.0 assists per game. Both of those averages represented career-high marks for the 30-year-old Oakland native. Lillard’s prospective MVP campaign is set to begin on Dec. 23 with the Blazers’ season opener against the Jazz.

You can read Golliver’s complete list of awards predictions at The Washington Post (subscription required).