Damian Lillard might not be a starter in the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, but he’s tight in the race for NBA MVP this season, according to Michael J Chandler and Jonathan Soveta of The Score. The duo compile a regular ranking of MVP candidates, and Lillard’s recent play is moving him up the list.
They explain Lillard’s accomplishments in the absence of fellow starters CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic:
In 14 contests without both McCollum and Nurkic, Lillard has registered 31.9 points, 8.6 assists, and four rebounds per game while keeping Portland in the playoff hunt in a wildly competitive conference. Better yet, the Trail Blazers are still in the mix for home-court advantage in the first round despite going without two key pieces for over a month.
That’s not to say he hasn’t had any help - recent hot streaks from Gary Trent Jr. and Carmelo Anthony have been timely - but if wins and outright value to the candidate’s team are the criteria, Lillard is fully deserving.
Lillard still ranks behind LeBron James, Joel Embiid, and Steph Curry on the list. He’s five spaces ahead of Luka Doncic, the man who beat him out for All-Star Game starting honors.