Damian Lillard has put forth a career season with the Portland Trail Blazers in 2022-23. Throughout the year, those monstrous numbers have caught the eye of the NBA media.
In the latest accolade, Tyler Parker of The Ringer compiled a list of the ‘NBA League Pass Value Player Rankings’ — the most entertaining players in the league on a nightly basis in layman's terms — and placed Lillard No. 3. Parker says:
“Yes, on the defensive end the towel is more paper than beach, but you don’t get the nickname Dame Time unless you’ve made enough daggers to take down King Kong. This is a man who has mastered the art of the ta-ta. He has shown an ability to slam doors in preposterously dramatic ways. Knows how to find the camera. Knows how to find his light. Used to hit up Chris Haynes once every few months and do an impression of Jeanie Bueller calling 911—I am very cute and very alone—but those seem to have dissipated,” Parker said.
No stat in the world can tell you how box office a player is or not. The eyes are a testament to spectacularity.
Can Dame pull up from 28 feet? Like water. Does he make 30-footers look like layups? With or without a hand in his face. Does he treat the painted area of a home team’s half-court logo like the paint under the basket? Emphatically, and his deep threes are as silky smooth as his 12-foot floaters.
Offensively, Lillard’s bag is like that of Felix the Cat — there’s always something new coming out of it that’ll throw a monkey wrench in a defense’s operation. He complements Mount Rushmore-level capabilities from beyond the arc with an inside presence that stands taller than his 6-3 frame. Once Lillard splits the defense anywhere along the three-point line, he’s destined for his patented one-handed dunk that just so happens to look the same every time, just with a different defender on the poster.
As respectful, humble and stoic as Lillard is off the court is as disrespectful as his game is on the floor. He’ll bang a game-winner on your favorite player in the playoffs and leave no time left on the clock. He’ll talk that talk and let you know just how he feels about it. He’s surely a generational crowd pleaser that has put his name all over the All-Star game and given the Moda Center a reason to erupt.
The only two players ranked above Lillard on The Ringer list are Giannis Antetokounmpo (No. 1, Milwaukee Bucks) and Joel Embiid (No. 2, Philadelphia 76ers). Objectively, the Greek Freak is that guy, and sits atop the NBA mountaintop in every discernible way. He’s like the fictional character Rubber Band Man from Static Shock. You just have to see him play to understand.
Embiid has put forth a third consecutive MVP-caliber season and has the finesse of Hakeem Olajuwon with the defensive recovery abilities of a Patrick Ewing fresh out of Georgetown University.
Notably, The Ringer ranked Lillard ahead of Stephen Curry (No. 4) Golden State Warriors, Ja Morant (No. 10, Memphis Grizzlies) and LeBron James (unranked, Los Angeles Lakers). All three could be debated against the likes of Lillard, but the Blazers lead man deserves his flowers regardless.