After residing in the No. 2 spot for a lengthy stretch of the 2020-21 season, Damian Lillard will have to settle for fifth-place in this week’s edition of NBA.com’s Kia MVP Ladder. According to columnist Michael C. Wright, the Trail Blazers guard will need to overcome both the uptick in the play of two Western Conference foes, Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic, as well as the returns of Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo if he expects to hoist the trophy at season’s end.
Along the way, the Blazers will need to string together more victories, something they’ve had a difficult time doing recently. Here’s how Wright described Lillard in his newest column.
“The production continues to dwindle, but give Lillard respect for keeping a realistic perspective regarding his prospects for winning the Kia MVP with his team having lost four of its last five going into Friday’s game at San Antonio. “I think for that to really happen, we’ve got to get ourselves back on the winning track,” Lillard said. “I think the chances of that happening had been really, really strong when we got on the road, were winning a lot of games, and I was playing well.” Lillard is shooting a season-low 38.5% in April and is at 37.5% on 3-pointers this month, too.”
Observers across the NBA have come to understand that there are two different versions of Lillard on the season: the one playing prior to his knee injury on Mar. 21, and the one gutting through pain now. Both are effective, but if Lillard and the Blazers each expect to succeed, health will be paramount. On the year, Lillard is averaging 28.7 points, 7.7 assists, and 4.2 rebounds on 44-38-93 percentage splits.
Wright threw out those five challengers as well as ten additional players deserving of recognition. The link to the full article can be found above.