Why Damian Lillard deserves to be a lock as Western Conference All-Star starter

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Lindsey Wisniewski
·4 min read
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Why Damian Lillard deserves to be a lock as Western Conference All-Star starter   originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

It’s that time of the year again.

NBA All-Star voting is officially open and to no one’s surprise, Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard is in the mix to add another All-Star selection to his stellar resume.

Lillard, who was named an NBA Western Conference All-Star for the fifth time last season (2014, 2015, 2018, 2019, 2020), became just the second player in franchise history to become a five-time NBA All-Star with Clyde Drexler coming in with eight nods.

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Despite Lillard getting the third-most fan votes, third-most votes from fellow NBA players and being the only guard to receive any media votes besides James Harden and Luka Doncic, Lillard was snubbed as All-Star starter in 2020.

Doncic was confused by the results, saying it’s “weird not seeing him in the starters,” while Lillard’s former teammate, Meyers Leonard, called the results "asinine."

But is it Dame Time in the West’s All-Star lineup this season? It’s time to put some respect on Lillard’s name.

The Trail Blazers star has literally been carrying the team on his back for years. But since we’re just talking about it this year in terms of All-Star voting, let’s break down what’s going on in Portland and why he deserves to be a starter.

It started with Zach Collins being ruled out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his foot. Then big man Jusuf Nurkic fractured his right wrist and underwent surgery. CJ McCollum was having an All-Star caliber season before sustaining a fracture in his left foot which will require him to miss at least 4 weeks.

On top of that, Robert Covington, Rodney Hood, and Derrick Jones Jr. have all missed time recently.

“Nobody’s gonna feel sorry for us,” Lillard said after Sunday’s loss to OKC. “We’re not gonna make no excuses. We’re just gonna keep on pushing forward.”

Yet, Lillard continues to produce at a high level. He’s third in the league in scoring at 28.7 ppg (behind Bradley Beal and Kevin Durant) and registering 4.8 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game for Portland. Dame is also averaging 3.8 three-pointers per game, good for fourth best amongst NBA players.

Since losing both CJ and Nurkic out of the starting lineup, Lillard has recorded games of 36 points vs. Atlanta (McCollum injured in first half), 35 points vs. San Antonio, 39 points vs. New York, and 26 points vs. OKC. Let’s not forget Lillard’s 39-point performance came after days of sleeping on a hospital room couch following the arrival of his twins to the world. Are you serious?

Give the man his starting spot already! Kendrick Perkins knows Dame is the real deal.  

The NBA announced on Wednesday that fan voting for the 2021 All-Stars will begin on Jan. 28 at 9:00 a.m. PT and run until Feb. 16 at 8:59 p.m. PT. Voting will take place on the NBA website, the NBA app and Twitter, and voters can submit one full ballot per day.There are also five “2-for-1 Days” planned. All votes cast on those days (Jan. 30, Feb. 2, Feb. 4, Feb. 13 and Feb. 16) will count twice.

At the moment, there are no concrete plans to hold an All-Star game, similar to what the NFL did with its Pro Bowl voting for the annual game. The NBA canceled the 2021 All-Star Game back in November, citing public health conditions due to the ongoing pandemic.