The NBA’s proposed 2021 NBA All-Star game is just weeks away and it appears that Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard is on the verge of claiming a starting spot inside the Western Conference’s ultra-competitive roster. Standing in Lillard’s path to a starting nod: Mavericks phenom Luka Doncic.
On Monday, following the Blazers’ victory over the Mavericks, a pair of ballot projections highlighted just how close the race is between Lillard and Doncic.
First, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor gave Doncic the edge over Lillard. O’Connor went on to explain that it was not an easy decision.
The only tough choice is the second starting guard spot. It’s a coin flip between Luka Doncic and Damian Lillard. I actually had Lillard penciled in as my starter when recording an episode of The Mismatch with Chris Vernon and Zach Lowe last Friday. But after diving deep this weekend, I’m giving Luka the edge. Doncic’s and Lillard’s scoring output is essentially a wash, but Luka has been a more magnificent playmaker and a more impactful defender and rebounder. Both of them have been tremendous, and their teams would be hopeless without them. Lillard is a lock as a reserve.
Sports Illustrated’s Michael Pina tilted in the opposite direction, giving Lillard the starting slot over Doncic.
While trying to navigate major injuries to their second and third-best players, Lillard has resumed his longstanding position as Portland’s north star. Statistically, there’s been no drop off anywhere in his game from last year to now, while right now the Blazers have a higher winning percentage than the Nuggets and Nets. He’s still arguably the deadliest pick-and-roll scorer in the game and second only to Curry in offensive real plus-minus.
The Trail Blazers currently possess a record 16-10, placing them slightly ahead of the Mavericks (13-15). Individually, Lillard is averaging 29.2 points and 7.3 assists per game this season. Doncic, through 27 outings, is averaging 29.1 points and 9.4 assists per game.