The Portland Trail Blazers are a team that many thought would be playoff contenders, but after a rough start to the season, that was put into question. Following multiple losing streaks, the Blazers picked up Carmelo Anthony, who added a much needed scoring boost.
However, even with Carmelo, the Blazers still seemed to not be 100%. Now that we are approaching the end of the regular season however, there is one person that is carrying the team towards the eighth seed in the west: Damian Lillard.
“Dolla” Dame Lillard is averaging 30 points and 8 assists on the season, but is averaging 34 points per game since January 1st, and 41.5 over the last 10 games.
Lillard is carrying the team on his back and it is impressive to say the least. The Blazers are winning games they should lose simply because of the clutch play by Lillard. He’s shooting 40% from three, and 49% overall. The guy is a walking bucket.
Is this enough to make Dame an MVP candidate? Well, let’s look at what an MVP candidate should be.
In my opinion, a regular season MVP should be judged based on these five qualifications:
1. Are his stats better or comparable to the best in the league?
2. Does he make his teammates better?
3. Is the team better when he is on the floor?
4. Is he helping the team to win games?
5. How much better does he make the team than other teams in the league?
Well, to answer the first question,yes. Damian Lillard right now is first in the league in scoring, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. With James Harden taking a dip in his efficiency, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lillard take home the regular season scoring award.
He also checks the second and third box. When Damian Lillard plays more minutes, the team does significantly better. Period.
Boxes four and five however, is what time will tell. As of now, the team holds the ninth seed in the west, and is desperately fighting to get to the eighth seed. If Dame can manage to carry his team into the playoffs, I’d say he’s in the conversation.
Until then, unfortunately, it is too hard to even mention him in the same conversation with players such as Giannis “The Greek Freak” who is leading his team to a wildly impressive 46-7 record.
It will be extremely interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out. If Dame manages to take his team to the playoffs and they make a run (even though the play offs aren’t supposed to matter in voting, they often do) then he will definitely be in the conversation.