Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard may have lost out to Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic for NBA Player of the Month honors in February, but NBA writer Dan Devine used his platform at Yahoo Sports to award Lillard a different prize.
In his Third-Quarter Awards for the 2022-23 NBA season, judging players and teams from Jan. 11 to March 3, Devine named Lillard the prestigious Player of the Quarter.
Devine said multiple players, including Jokic, could’ve been chosen, but he wanted to use his ink space to highlight the player “who’s averaged nearly 39 points a night for seven friggin’ weeks.” Then he went further in depth on just how absurd Lillard’s statistics have been lately.
After topping 40 points three times through his first 40 games of the season, Lillard’s done it 10 times in his last 21 appearances — including 50 on 28 shots against Cleveland, 60 on 29 shots against Utah and, of course, a career-high 71 on 38 shots against Houston on Sunday — to lead the league in scoring in Q3.
Lillard devastated all over the court in Q3, posting the kind of sky-high true shooting percentage (which factors in 2-point, 3-point and free-throw accuracy) typically associated with low-usage, catch-and-dunk big men (and Jokic, the exception to so many rules). He shot 70% inside the restricted area (which would be a career-high for a full season) and averaged 15.2 points per game off drives to the basket (ditto). Any concerns about him losing his ability to get to the free-throw line feel, oh, so very last season; nobody took more freebies than Lillard’s 245 in Q3 (an average of 11.7 attempts per game), and he missed a grand total of 11 of them, a 95.5% clip.
He drilled a downright Durantian 57.1% of his midrange tries, too, though he rarely took them — preferring, instead, to launch nearly a dozen triples a night, and splash 40.2% of them. (Again: Both would be career highs.) Lillard took 184 pull-up 3s in Q3; only 122 other players even took that many shots overall. He made more off-the-bounce 3s in that span than 14 TEAMS!
Blazers fans will enjoy the write-up on their franchise cornerstone, especially considering the NBA didn’t give Lillard his flowers for his fantastic February.
You can read the full piece here.
(You may notice, Lillard is being awarded for almost two months of play, making this accolade arguably more meaningful than Player of the Month.)