Damian Lillard has kept the injury-depleted Portland Trail Blazers afloat in standings and he has flirted with the NBA MVP award for the majority of the 2020-21 regular season. Regardless of that billing, The Ringer’s list of the Top 25 Players in the NBA placed Lillard just outside of the top 10.
Sandwiched between Chris Paul and Luka Doncic, Lillard was listed at No. 11 in the latest rankings from The Ringer. Inside the rankings, Lillard earned superb marks for his late-game heroics and decision making.
The one shot, game on the line conversation can be a bit reductive, but it’s also revealing to see how opponents react to that premise. Lillard can push a playoff-level team to full-on crisis. Panic switches, flailing miscommunications, out-of-character traps—anything and everything is possible when Dame has the ball in his hands late in a close game, and the Blazers rightly trust him not just to hit shots, but to make the best possible decisions. In that capacity, Lillard delivers for the full 48. He manages the game, he investigates the coverage, and when the bell finally tolls, he rips out an opponent’s still-beating heart.
The Ringer’s top 10 was packed with former MVPs and players who took center stage during a run to the NBA Finals. Only Doncic, Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic—who finished at No. 1—did not meet those two qualifications.
Lillard was the only Blazers player to make the list. You can check out the complete top 25 at The Ringer.