City Sports Report

Damian Lilliard: The Missing All-Star

Damian Lilliard will be missed at the all-star game( photo via www.usatoday.com)

The starters and reserves have been named for this year’s NBA All-Star game in New York. There were the usual suspects like Cleveland’s LeBron James and Clippers point guard Chris Paul and there were also some brand new All-Stars like Toronto’s Kyle Lowry and Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler. But one name that is missing is a guy that has earned his stripes as a point guard. Portland’s Damian Lilliard has been holding his own in the point-guard dominated Western Conference. He, along with Wesley Matthews, form one of the NBA’s best backcourts that no one talks about. But again, his play has fallen on deaf ears. It was a given that he was not going to overtake a guy like Golden State’s Steph Curry for point starting point guard with the fans voting for that position, but when the opposing coaches slighted him as well, that is perplexing. And what made it even worse is Kobe Bryant (torn rotator cuff) was replaced by Sacramento Kings big man Demarcus Cousins. It is clear that Lilliard has been overlooked and passed over again for this game. But who should be taken out for him?

Lilliard should be in New York and unless something unforeseen happens, he will not be headed there this year. He was well deserving. He has over a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio and he has upped his scoring average each and every season he has been in the NBA. And what is so great about Lilliard is you can depend on him to be available and playing every night. Russell Westbrook, on the other hand, has had issues staying healthy over the last couple of years. He, along with Kevin Durant, have missed some time this season with injuries. And as a result of the Thunder’s star tandem missing games, the Thunder are struggling to even make the playoffs. Westbrook has put up good numbers scoring-wise (averaging a career-high 25.2 points per game, but there are two things that he has not done better than Lilliard. First, he has not shot as well as Lilliard. Damian shoots a better percentage from the three-point line (37% to 26%). Westbrook is explosive, but there will be times that he is not able to make it all the way to the basket or there may be times where his marksmanship from deep, or lack thereof, may hurt him. In Lilliard, you have a guy that has taken and made more big shots than any guard in the NBA this season. And with him shooting a 37% from three-point range, I am pretty sure he will be more trusted to make things happen from long range. Secondly, Westbrook is averaging 7.5 assists per game but he is also averaging almost four turnovers per game. Westbrook is dangerous, but he is also a guy that can be unpredictable with the basketball. That can be great at times for the Thunder, but it can also be nerve-wracking. When it comes to Lilliard, he has proven he can be trusted handling the basketball a little more due to the fact he turns it over less. His overall numbers, care for the basketball and the fact that he has helped get his team in a great position leading to the All-Star break give him the edge over Westbrook. In any other year with Westbrook playing the entire season, there would probably be an edge to Westbrook. But with him missing games and the plight of the Thunder, Lilliard deserved it a little more than he did.

Another guy that should be sitting at home at the All-Star break is San Antonio Spurs big man Tim Duncan. Honestly, his spot should have gone to Demarcus Cousins in the beginning anyway. But Cousins is there as a result of Kobe missing the game, so he rightfully will be there. But as far as Duncan, he does average a double-double (15 points and 10 rebounds a game). There are not many big men in the NBA that are averaging a double-double and for Duncan to be doing that at his age is a great accomplishment. And we must also recognize that he has been one of the greatest big men of this generation. But even with that being said, he is not putting up special numbers. The Spurs pretty much rest their players throughout the season and make sure to have the Big Fundamental ready for the playoffs. That sounds nice, but that is not what makes you an All-Star. What makes you an All-Star is what you have done to raise the level of your team. Lilliard has made great play after great play this season as the Trailblazers are continuing to gain steam as the season wears on. It’s because of those big plays and the load he has to carry with Portland that he should have gotten the nod here. But it seems like the coaches went with the lifetime achievement selection instead of selecting someone that has easily earned the chance to be on the team. And the Western Conference players may want to be aware of Duncan not playing a lot in this game, further wasting a roster spot that could have been used on a guard that is used to playing as many minutes as possible. But instead of making the sensible decision to select a player who has clearly been playing great basketball, the NBA coaches decide to select Duncan to the team like it’s a lifetime achievement award. And Lilliard has every right to be unhappy with not being on the team with decisions like this being made. This selection also speaks to the lack of depth in big men. The NBA should have taken one more point guard on the Western Conference team instead of having to count on Duncan to be out there again.

It is unquestioned that Lilliard deserved to be on this team more than Westbrook and Duncan. Unfortunately, whoever selects the reserves did not see it the same way as some fans see it. And as a result, Lilliard will not be playing in the All-Star game.

For more sports conversations, feel free to check me out on Twitter @General_MP or check me out on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .

5 Comments

  1. Jason

    February 6, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    He deserves the spot over Westbrook. …Liliard is a better player then Westbrook. Duncan got his lifetime achievement award. …. this happens every year….it happened to Curry twice. ..Liliard will be a ALLSTAR sooner rather than later.

  2. Darrel Wilson

    February 6, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    Nice piece Mike, I can’t say that I agree with you 100% on this though. Where the coaches made the mistake was selecting Durant over Cousins originally, they’re both forwards.

    The commissioner’s office tried to fix it by adding Cousins to replace Kobe Bryant. However, the problem with that is that Kobe is a guard, thus a guard such as Lillard should have been selected.

    Why does this matter that I say Durant doesn’t belong but Westbrook does. Durant has played in only 44% of his team’s games while Westbrook has played over 70%.

    I’m fine with Duncan making it, somebody has to represent the defending champs, can’t argue if said player is averaging a double-double.

    • Mike Patton

      February 6, 2015 at 3:44 pm

      I’m not fine with Duncan makin it. If they choose Cousins over Duncan and then all would have worked out, as Lilliard would have been the unanimous selection to replace Kobe. Besides, Duncan admittedly doesn’t want to go and would rather rest up.

  3. Darrel Wilson

    February 6, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    If they chose Cousins over Durant, it would have all worked out. Durant has only played 22 games sir. Even though Duncan rather not be playing, the coaches rightfully voted in him, unless you want DeAndre Jordan in the game.

    • Mike Patton

      February 6, 2015 at 4:02 pm

      I would have rather seen DeAndre than Timmy in the All-Star game. He would have been great for this game.

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