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Breaking Down Damian Lillard's All-Star Chances

PORTLAND, OR - JANUARY 11:  Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers runs out before the game against the Boston Celtics on January 11, 2014 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
Sam Forencich/Getty Images
Shehan PeirisCorrespondent IIIJanuary 9, 2017

Earlier this year, Portland Trailblazers point guard Damian Lillard admitted that he wanted to participate in the NBA three-point contest. Given that he currently leads the league in three-point makes, it looks like he'll get his wish. Considering how well he's playing for one of the league's best teams, he may want to pack his bags for the whole weekend—he might have a spot in the All-Star game also.

The competition for All-Star spots in the Western conference is stiff, but Lillard has as good a shot as any of the Western guards.

The reigning Rookie of the Year is averaging 21.4 points per game (12th in the league), 3.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game for a Blazers squad that has shocked the NBA and has been one of the best teams in league.

LaMarcus Aldridge may be the "franchise player," but Lillard is equally important to Portland's success. His assist numbers could be higher, but he sets the tone for the team and is a devastating scorer.

Lillard's Lethal Scoring Efficiency
Play TypePoints per PossessionNBA Rank
Isolation1.0111th
Pick-and-Roll Ball-Handler0.9113th
Spot Up1.1737th
Hand Off1.0310th
Off Screen1.0026th
Overall1.0247th
SynergySports.com

Furthermore, Lillard has stepped up in the clutch when his squad has needed him the most—on multiple occasions.

There is no disputing his talent, but is there a spot on the All-Star roster with so many outstanding guards in the West?

One thing is clear: He's not getting voted in as a starter.

These are the results of the third ballot returns for the Western conference guards:

Western Conference All-Star Voting: Backcourt
PlayerVotes
Kobe Bryant844,538
Stephen Curry677,372
Chris Paul651,073
Jeremy Lin471,980
James Harden338,788
Russell Westbrook260,499
Tony Parker195,328
Damian Lillard162,363
CBSSports.com

Lillard is way down on the list, behind luminaries like Jeremy Lin, so there's no way he can make up that kind of ground—despite Kobe Bryant's wishes.

The issue then becomes where he stands in the minds of the Western Conference coaches. Assuming the results stay as they are right now, Bryant and Stephen Curry are the starters.

Lillard's competition for the reserve guard spots would likely be James Harden, Chris Paul and Tony Parker. In all honesty, those four guards could all make the cut, leaving six roster spots for the reserve frontcourt.

In addition, injuries could part the seas for Lillard and guarantee playing time in New Orleans. Bryant and Paul (possibly the two starters) are currently nursing injuries and might miss the festivities.

Injuries will loom large in this year's All-Star Game.
Injuries will loom large in this year's All-Star Game.Glenn James/Getty Images

Likewise, Russell Westbrook would certainly be an All-Star if he had been healthy this season. He too might not be active by the time the NBA's showcase rolls around, and it's unlikely that he'll be able to make the squad with just 25 games under his belt.

Make no mistake, however. Even without the injuries, Lillard absolutely deserves to be on this team. He's built off a tremendous rookie year and has emerged as one of the game's best point guards.

Moreover, Portland has been so fantastic that it deserves two All-Stars. LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lilliard will give the Rip City fans something to cheer about over the All-Star break.

 

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