The 2022-23 NBA season has seen gargantuan statistical production from a mass of players around the league. With less than 12 games left before the postseason, the regular season awards races are as tight as can be, leaving the NBA media playing the guessing game on who wins what.
Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report predicted all three All-NBA team selections and sees Portland Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard being named to the second team, saying in part:
“And he [Lillard] has to settle for a spot on the second team!
That owes partly to our devaluation of playing-time volume, which Lillard has more of than Stephen Curry. Spoiler: Steph is going to make the first team. Lillard’s edge in that area could dwindle if Portland shuts him down,” Hughes said.
“Other factors contributing to Dame landing here include his comparatively weak defensive performance and Curry’s superior efficiency on twos, threes and free throws. Team success has to weigh in a little bit as well, and Lillard’s Blazers are siting outside the play-in mix near the end of a hugely disappointing season.”
This season, Lillard has become the Trail Blazers’ all-time leading scorer, scored 71 points in a game and passed many greats on the league’s all-time scoring list, all in the midst of a career-best 32.3 points per contest.
Albeit, Bleacher Report prognosticates guards Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors) and Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks) being named to the All-NBA First team ahead of Lillard.
Doncic outpaces Lillard in all five major statistical categories while shooting better from the field per game. His Mavericks are also four games better than the Blazers.
There is room for debate pertaining to Curry. The reigning NBA Finals MVP has missed 26 games and averages less points and assists than Lillard. However, as noted by Hughes, Curry has been more efficient in several categories while his Warriors are currently five games better than the Blazers in the standings.
Additionally, Hughes forecasted guards De’Aaron Fox (Sacramento Kings) and Donovan Mitchell (Cleveland Cavaliers) to be named to the Third Team behind Lillard.
Fox is on the verge of leading the Kings to their first playoff berth since 2006. He has been the most clutch player in the NBA this year, averaging a league-leading 5.1 points down the stretch on 53.9 percent shooting from the floor. He is a major threat to be named above Lillard on any of the three teams.
Mitchell was the antecedent to Lillard’s career-high 71-point game against the Houston Rockets on Feb. 26. Mitchell also scored a career-high 71 points this season against the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 2. He has elevated the Cavaliers to the status of championship hopefuls behind 27.4 points and a career-low 2.6 turnovers per game.