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What’s popping on Air-Ball

Why do we always forget about Damian Lillard when discussing the NBA’s elite?

I thought this would end when he finally got his All-Star due after back-to-back snubs when he averaged 25.1 and 27 respectively and yet, here I am listening to the Lowe Post last night and John Hollinger says Dame isn’t a top ten MVP candidate this season. Like I’m sorry WHAT???

What Lillard is doing right now defies reasonable expectations. Jusuf Nurkic, CJ McCollum, Zach Collins and Nassir Little have all played less than half of the Blazers games. None of the Blazer’s top 11 most played two-man lineups feature one of McCollum or Nurkic and yet, the Blazers are 17-10.

I understand analytically guys like Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, Steph Curry and maybe even Luka Doncic have had slightly better seasons but you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who matters more to their team than Dame. 

Right now when Lillard is on the court, the Blazers have a +4.4 net rating and -8.4 when he’s off. Curry, by contrast, a lock top five candidate to many is +2.1 on the court and -1.6 when off. Of course, though, it’s not even close who’s been more valuable to their team so far this season right? 

It’s not like the Blazers have a 119.1 offensive rating when Dame is playing, which would lead the NBA and a 103.5 offensive rating, which would be in last, that’s for sure. 

Yes, somehow, the guy who by himself according to the numbers takes his team from the best offence in basketball to the worst just by existing isn’t a top ten MVP candidate. How that makes any sense is a fun question.

The worst part is it’s not like his other numbers are down or anything. He’s top five in points, points per game, offensive win shares, and offensive box plus-minus and top ten in assists per game, player efficiency rating, total win shares, win shares per 48 minutes and value over replacement. 

One of Hollinger’s cases was the Blazer’s record wasn’t what it seemed to be based on the numbers. Well, maybe that’s because they have the best clutch player in basketball.

The Blazers are 11-3 in clutch games and Dame is shooting 21 of 35 from the field and nine of 16 from deep. Lillard all season has brought new meaning to the term “Dame Time.” 

Now I’m not saying Dame needs to be the runaway MVP candidate but what does he need to do to get his flowers? His team has a better record than all of Jokic, Curry and Doncic and I would argue with less help as well. 

It’s unbelievable how we’re nine seasons into this hall of farmer’s career and still, he gets overlooked. 

Like the idea Lillard is penalized for the Blazer’s bad defence when he plays major minutes with the likes of Enes Kanter, Carmelo Anthony and Anfernee Simons while Curry and Doncic get a pass is laughable. Lillard is really about to have one of the most impactful seasons for a guard we’ve seen in the last decade and not finish top ten in MVP voting and for what reason other than he’s Damian Lillard?

I’m sick and tired of having to defend Dame against the Curry’s and Doncic’s of the world and look like a hater of theirs just so Dame gets some respect. I don’t really care if he isn’t top five on your ballot, some players have had unbelievable seasons so far across the league (I’d personally have him five) but to sit here and act like he hasn’t been a top ten player so far is flat out insulting.

Show Dame some respect. 


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