From All-Star snubs to series-ending game-winners, Damian Lillard has had overcome the label of underrated throughout his Portland Trail Blazers career.
Since his third season in the association, Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has averaged 26.8 points, 6.8 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game. Even before his third season, Lillard was flat out balling, winning Rookie of the Year in his debut season and competing in every All-Star event during his second year.
From the time he buried a series-ending, cold-blooded 3-pointer against the Houston Rockets in 2014 or the time he was dubbed Logo Lillard after canning back to back long-range bombs in the 2019 All-Star game, the former Weber State Wildcat has been building his case as an elite talent in the league despite previous all-star game snubs and slanderous tweets from NBA fans targetting his teams 2018 postseason performance against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Things changed in the opening round of the 2020 playoffs. The way things played out, it almost feels as if the song Believer by Imagine Dragons was made for that series based on the way Lillard took that song’s hook and made it into his story. In fact, he made everyone into believers.
When Lillard stared down Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder and side-stepped and sank what may be one of the greatest game-winning shots in the history of the league, his perception changed. Suddenly he was no longer underappreciated and no longer underrated. He finally was being acknowledged as a top point guard in the league and all it took was an appearance from “Logo Lillard” during “Dame Time”.
Last season, Portland’s season came to an end in the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors. This season, the Blazers struggled largely due to their inability to get healthy. Rip City had spent most of the season awaiting the return of Jusuf Nurkic and while doing so, lost Rodney Hood and Zach Collins to season-ending injuries.
Nurkic was set to return on March 15 against Houston after missing nearly a year of action with a broken leg and it seemed as if the team finally was poised to make their late run towards the eigh seed. However, the Blazers and Rockets matchup has yet to come after the NBA season was suspended on March 11 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite a rough season for the Blazers up to this point, their star had continued to shine. About a month before the NBA’s hiatus, Lillard was a man on fire. His hot streak began when he scorched the Golden State Warriors for 61 points and set a new a franchise record for points in the game.
Over the next five contests, he poured in 47, 50, 36, 48, and 51.
Earlier in the year, Lillard had dropped 60 on the Minnesota Timberwolves. Which meant he scored 60 or more twice throughout this suspended 2019-20 season. He also scored in the range of 50 to 59 twice and had scored in the range of 40 to 49 three different times. Along with his 28.9 points per game came 7.8 assists a game and 4.3 rebounds per game.
Damian Lillard was playing the best ball of his life.
While NBA fans are stuck inside the house watching highlights and debating each other on social media, I urge you to take a long, hard look at Damian Lillard. His ability to bury deep threes and contested jump shots along with his crafty finishing at the rim mixed with his ability to throw down dunks in traffic makes him an elite and intriguing talent.
Taking that closer look at him may result in you thinking a little longer when asked: “who is the best point guard in the league?” Of course, there is the safe option of going with the two time MVP, Stephen Curry. Or, you may be drawn to take the road less traveled and simply say…
It’s Dame’s time.