All-Star Berth, Goodbye Slump
Name: Damian Lillard
Last Week’s Stats: 18.5 PPG, 5.0 APG, 3.5 RPG, 23.1 3PT%
Let’s start with the good. Damian Lillard found out this past week that he was voted into the All-Star Game by the coaches. It’s going to be his first appearance at All-Star Sunday, and needless to say, it’s well-deserved.
Unfortunately for Lillard, the announcement came in the midst of his first true NBA slump. He’s had off-games throughout his one-and-a-half years as a pro, but extended shooting troubles have been non-existent for the otherwise impressive youngster.
Although the majority of Lillard’s slump has come before Week 14, his continued struggles bring one question to mind: Should the Trail Blazers be worried? Things have come rather easily to Lillard up to this point in his career, and we’ve yet to see him fight through true adversity on an NBA floor.
Luckily for Portland and its fans, the point guard seemingly broke out of the slump in one game against the Toronto Raptors. He recorded 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds, and more importantly, he shot an impressive 8-of-15 from the field.
The problem for Portland is that his three-point shooting has been awful of late, and that didn’t change in the win over the Raptors. He hasn’t shot better than 28.6 percent in any game since Jan. 20, and without his lights-out shooting, the team has struggled to sustain the success it found early in the year.
The Blazers need Lillard to be on top of his game for the rest of the season, and that includes his three-point shot. We all know he’ll be playing alongside LaMarcus Aldridge at the All-Star Game, but more importantly, he’ll be playing alongside him at the Moda Center for a long time to come.
The Trail Blazers need Lillard to get back to his usual self, and if that can happen, the team can regain momentum for the second-half stretch.
But going back to the good, you can’t deny Lillard’s accomplishment from earlier in the week. He was named an All-Star reserve over talents such as DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Goran Dragic, and he further established himself as one of the great young players that the league has to offer.
On the year, Lillard is averaging 20.6 points and 5.6 assist while shooting 41.3 percent from deep, proving that he’s a viable candidate to represent Rip City at All-Star Weekend. Nobody’s going to question his merits when it comes to his All-Star candidacy, but it’s time to get back on track with the regular season and playoffs in mind.