The NBA recently released its All-Star rosters, and while the absence of Damian Lillard is understandable considering his first-year status, the league made a huge mistake depriving the fans of what they truly want to see.
Lillard was pushing to become the first rookie guard to make the game since Michael Jordan. He’s the favorite to win Rookie of the Year through the first half of the season, and it’s clear why fans around the league would want to see him alongside the best players that the NBA has to offer.
Every NBA roster needs both bigs and smalls. Without a center, you stand no chance inside, and without a point guard, you lack the one player who can set up the offense throughout the course of a game—unless you’re the Miami Heat, of course.
But an All-Star roster doesn’t have to have an even amount of players at each position, as most players end up playing out of position at some point anyway.
The Association has become a point guard’s game, so adding another floor general to the court would have only helped increase interest both across the nation and in the Pacific Northwest.
The NBA loves young, athletic point guards. This is why Lillard has been invited to participate in both the Rising Stars and Skills Challenge competitions, and this is exactly why the league should have gone one step further and put him in the big game.
— Comcast SportsNet NW (@CSNNW) February 2, 2013
When you think of All-Star games, you don’t think of X’s and O’s; you think of fast competition without much defense. Could anything sound more up Lillard’s alley?
It can be argued that Lillard takes a few too many three’s as a rookie, but isn’t that exactly what we want out of our All-Stars? We want players who make the exciting plays, and that’s exactly what Lillard gives us night in and night out.
Whether it’s finishing at the rim or firing from long range, Lillard is arguably the most exciting player to watch on a young Portland roster.
When selecting an All-Star team, you certainly want to reward the best players for playing well. However, you also want to give the fans what they want, and as the NBA has transitioned into a little man’s game, it’s clear that the fans want point guards.
Portland’s last perennial All-Star, Brandon Roy, was exciting to watch in the half court. He could run the isolation game like few others in the league, and he knew how to take over a game when his team needed it most.
Lillard can do these things, too—and so much more.
His style of play caters to the fast-break game much more effectively than Roy’s did. All-Star games are up-tempo with lots of dunks, three-pointers and unforeseeable passes—all things Lillard does well.
Lillard may be a rookie, but he’s hasn’t looked like it yet this season. The point guard out of Weber State is putting up the kind of numbers you see from the league’s elite players; but then again, who’s to say he’s not already in the elite category?
At just 22 years old, Lillard is averaging 18.3 points, 6.5 assists and has a PER of 16.31. He’s in the top 15 in the first two categories, and his career-high 37 points is tied for the eighth-most scored by a players this season.
The point guard is also shooting the ball from long range at 35.8 percent, which makes him a viable option to launch from deep on any given possession.
But with Lillard, it’s not just about the numbers. He plays with a poise on the floor that screams ‘veteran point guard.’ He can run an offense, he can take over late and he can find his teammates in both half-court and transition situations.
Imagine what he could do with Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin on his side.
So Why Was He Left Out?
The truth is that even though the All-Star teams are made up of position-less rosters, there is a bit of a logjam when it comes to Western Conference point guards. Chris Paul is easily the best in the conference—if not the league—and Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker are both having arguably the best seasons of their careers.
Even Stephen Curry, who was not elected to the team, would have likely been the next one in, pushing Lillard further away from the competition.
Lillard is deserving, but you can’t just look at him—you have to look at everyone.
But seeing as how deserving Lillard is, that’s an indication of how many All-Star games are to come for the young point guard.
The future is bright for Lillard, and even though he’s not an All-Star just yet, he’ll have plenty throughout his career as long as he continues playing at a high level for years to come.