With the conclusion of the 2023 NBA All-Star weekend, the most pivotal games of the season await as teams jockey for playoff position and players for individual accolades come season’s end.
Brad Botkin of CBS Sports ranked the top 50 players in the association, predicated on who are having the most outstanding individual seasons. He ranked Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard No. 9 overall — an uptick from his No. 13 preseason ranking — having this to say:
“Lillard is quietly having the best, or at least most efficient, season of his career: 31.4 points per game on a career-high 64.8 true-shooting percentage. Lillard’s 130.2 points per 100 shot attempts is also a career high by an appreciable margin, trailing only Stephen Curry’s 136.6 among all point guards. It remains a shame that the Blazers just cannot get any winning traction.” — Brad Botkin
Botkin spoke truth to the power of Lillard’s game this season, and how his efficiency and volume scoring has made him among the premiere players in the NBA.
Lillard was ranked above superstar LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers), as well as stars Ja Morant (Memphis Grizzlies), Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans) and Donovan Mitchell (Cleveland Cavaliers).
Among the eight players who received higher aggrandizement, Lillard was edged out by three point guards — superstar Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks), and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City Thunder) — all of whom were fellow All-Stars this season.
In one of the most highly competitive individual seasons in NBA history, Lillard will have to run through the tape in order to earn placement on one of the three All-NBA teams. While his stats are otherworldly, the Blazers are the No. 12 seed in the Western Conference, and all of his peers at point guard, save Tyrese Haliburton (Indiana Pacers), have better team records.
Notable omissions from the top 50 were Trail Blazers stars Jerami Grant and Anfernee Simons, neither of whom were acknowledged for their work from the three-point line or in the clutch, in an otherwise sound appraisal of the NBA’s best this year.