Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard is off to a great start to the season.
He received placement on the inaugural Kia NBA MVP Ladder, coming in at No. 6. Trailing behind the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, Donovan Mitchell, Ja Morant, and Devin Booker, Lillard led the way for the next five gracing the list.
In five games played, Dame is averaging 31 points per game on a career-high 49.5 percent from the three-point line. The Blazers were off to their best start in over a decade, and through five games were the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
The slippage in positioning is most likely attributed to the fact that Lillard has missed the last two games for Rip City. In that span, they have gone 1-1, with a win over the Houston Rockets and a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. However, it could be said that his absence was a main reason why a late surge against Memphis could not materialize into a win, and that his impact has been missed this early in the season.
Lillard placed higher than Jayson Tatum, Pascal Siakam, Nikola Jokic, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who have all been driving the bus of playoff – or in the case of the Oklahoma City Thunder – play-in teams.
Dame will continue to miss time, as he will not suit up for Portland tonight against the Phoenix Suns. The Blazers play the Suns again tomorrow night in a back-to-back road slate, before visiting Miami on Monday. Portland is hoping they can receive its all-star guard back in the rotation during this six-game road trip. Every additional game that Lillard misses dampens his claim to a higher spot on the ladder, for now that is.