Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard is polarizing and there are many different unique opinions on him.
Several journalists from The Athletic contributed in this year’s anonymous poll to ask 108 players around the league what they thought of each other on a wide variety of topics, from the most deserving of MVP to the most over/under-rated players. Surprisingly, Lillard was mentioned in contradicting categories.
And how’s this for an oddity worth highlighting? Six players — Deandre Ayton, Tobias Harris, Jaren Jackson Jr., Damian Lillard, Austin Reaves and Nikola Vučević — received votes for both “most overrated” and “most underrated” (a category you can find next). The Lillard inclusion in this section was quite unexpected.
“(The Blazers) haven’t really won that much,” the player who voted for Lillard said. “I know he’s a great player individually, but … that’s what happens when you shoot that much. And then just over his career, he (hasn’t) won that much. It’s not his fault, in particular, but I just think he’s a little overhyped.”
Meanwhile, it’s only fair to make sure we share the positive perspective on Lillard from one of his supporters here as well since one of his skeptics spoke before.
“I don’t think he gets the credit that he deserves,” the player said. “Obviously, he’s hard headed in the way that (he’s decided) that, ‘I’m going to win here (in Portland). You guys are gonna come to me. I’m not gonna go to you, and I’m gonna try to win.’ (But) I respect that about him.”
Lillard is consistently among the league’s top scorers and equally consistently among the league’s least prosperous (for his skill level). In other words, he is a tremendous individual talent but the Trail Blazers have not experienced the success one would hope for, given his prodigious play.
Which begs the question: Is Lillard overrated or underrated?
It depends on how you weight team achievements, mostly, and whether or not you believe the team’s lack of success at the highest level has more to do with him or the organization. Frankly, Lillard hasn’t had a strong supporting cast for most of his NBA career. How much of the onus is on him to carry?
Lillard is coming off of the best statistical year of his career, and the worst team record (33-49) since his rookie season 10 years ago.
Do you think Lillard is “overhyped,” that he deserves more credit, or that he’s appropriately rated in the NBA’s upper echelon despite unfavorable circumstances? Chime off in the comments below.