Damian Lillard’s career year has come to an end, according to NBA insider Chris Haynes.
Lillard has averaged a career-high 32.2 points per game in 58 appearances for the Blazers this year, adding 4.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists in 36.3 minutes.
Portland’s 32-43 record places them 13th in the NBA’s Western Conference, three positions away from competing in the postseason Play-In Tournament to determine the lower seeds in the 2023 NBA Playoffs bracket. The half-dozen teams ahead of Portland all have 37 or 38 losses. The Blazers would need to leapfrog three of the six over their final nine games in order to compete in the tournament.
Conversely, the Blazers own the sixth-worst record in the NBA, tied with the Washington Wizards and Indiana Pacers with those same 41 losses. Those three teams and the Orlando Magic (43 losses currently) will sort themselves out for the 5th-8th positions in the Draft Lottery drawing. The 8th team will have a 6.7% chance at the coveted #1 overall pick, the 5th seed 10.5%. With presumed generational talent Victor Wembanyama as the prize for this year’s lottery winner, teams that will miss the playoffs have incentive to finish with as few wins as possible.
With Lillard out, the Blazers could reach the 5th-best odds at the top pick and pair him with Wembanyama this summer.