Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NBA. Throughout the year we ask questions of the most plugged-in Portland Trail Blazers fans and fans across the country.
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This week’s poll asks Blazers faithful and NBA fans alike whether or not Damian Lillard’s spectacular 71-point performance against the Houston Rockets etched himself into one of the three All-NBA teams for 2023?
Lillard, a seven-time NBA All-Star, is also a six-time All-NBA honoree. He was named to the first team in 2018, the second team four times (2016, 2019-2021) and the third team in 2014. Every season where he was named an All Star, save 2015, was he also named to one of the three All-NBA teams.
Averaging a career-high in points (32.1 PPG) and field goal percentage (47.1 percent), Lillard is in the midst of the greatest statistical year of his career and his 71-point game placed him in history with a short list of players to have breached the 70-point barrier.
However, this season has featured a slew of point guards that have put up gaudy stats while also winning games.
For context, the league’s leading scorer is Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks). He averages 33.2 points, 8.8 rebounds and 8.1 assists per game — all better than Lillard. His Mavericks are four slots ahead of the Blazers as the No. 7 seed in the West. Ja Morant (Memphis Grizzlies) has maintained the No. 2 seed in a tough Western Conference nearly all season, behind 27.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game. It’s safe to assume that, all things considered, Doncic and Morant have secured the first team honors.
After them, a host of point guards garner serious consideration. De’Aaron Fox has led the Kings to a 36-25 record as the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. Sacramento’s unprecedented success this season, coupled with Fox’s stellar clutch time performance — where he leads the league with 5.6 points per game down the stretch — is sure to have him in the second or third team.
Despite only playing 38 games thus far, Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors) has a great shot at being named. Lillard will be in competition with the spearhead of the No. 5 seed in the West, alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City Thunder) and the No. 2 league leader in assists, Tyrese Haliburton (Indiana Pacers).
This also assumes that the league deems Doncic eligible at shooting guard alongside Morant, and not exclusively point guard, to which one of the two would be demoted to the second team, thus bumping out one of the aforementioned players from contention altogether.
While his numbers are noteworthy to put it lightly, Lillard has stiff competition. They are merit-worthy, but Dame is no stranger to snubs. Therefore, let us know if Lillard has done enough to have earned the high praises of the NBA, or if he has more work to do to make his claim undeniable.