Given how prevalent injuries to the game’s top stars have been during this season, the race for the 2020-21 NBA Most Valuable Player award could come down to the player who balances production and health most effectively. Based on HoopsHype columnist Michael Scotto’s recent poll, the public views Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard as an ideal candidate.
In an anonymous survey of 20 media members whose ballot counted in last season’s awards, Lillard ranked No. 4 on the MVP ladder.
The six-time All-Star garnered 46.7 percent of the maximum share, ranking behind Joel Embiid, LeBron James, and Nikola Jokic. Perhaps the most interesting development is that Embiid and James are both out indefinitely, which leads some to believe that Lillard and Jokic could make strides in a two-player race.
Scotto noted Lillard’s individual brilliance during the Blazers’ noteworthy injury woes.
You don’t need your watch to know the fourth quarter is “Lillard Time” or that he has more range than Verizon Wireless on his jumper. Whether it’s stretching the defense beyond the arc or attacking defenders at the rim, Lillard has been a terror on defenses nightly without his usual backcourt sidekick CJ McCollum in the lineup for much of the season. He’s scored the most points overall in the league (1225), ranks second in three-pointers made (176), and has made the third-most free throws overall (291).
Lillard and Jokic are each leaders of teams with identical records (25-17), with favorable schedules that could give them a chance to create some separation from the pack this week.
Scotto’s list goes all the way into the top nine players in the anonymous survey. The rest of that list can be found here.