Blazers' Damian Lillard Has Grade 1 Strain; Injury Will Be Re-Evaluated in 1-2 Weeks

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVNovember 20, 2022

PORTLAND, OR - NOVEMBER 19: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers looks on during the game against the Utah Jazz on November 19, 2022 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 2022 NBAE (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has a Grade 1 strain of the soleus muscle in the right lower leg and will be re-evaluated in one to two weeks, the team announced Sunday night.

Lillard previously said that he expected to miss some of his team's four-game road trip after suffering a calf injury in Saturday's 118-113 loss to the Utah Jazz.

Lillard told reporters after the game he doesn't believe the injury is as serious as the calf strain he picked up earlier in the season.

The Blazers split the four games Lillard missed to end October and begin November. Portland also held him out for a 106-95 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Nov. 10.

The six-time All-Star is averaging 26.3 points and 7.0 assists in 11 appearances. The calf trouble may be impacting his shooting considering his 33.3 percent clip on three-pointers is noticeably below his career average (37.2 percent).

Still, the Blazers are third in the Western Conference at 10-6. They've also done reasonably well without their best player. Portland has a 1.8 net rating per 100 possessions when Lillard has been on the bench, per NBA.com.

Coming into the year, questions remained over the state of the supporting cast.

The Blazers' 27-55 record in 2021-22 laid bare how badly they needed Lillard, who was limited to 29 games. They were in a tailspin even before trading CJ McCollum to the Pelicans.

Jerami Grant, Portland's biggest offseason addition, has exceeded expectations. He's not only averaging 19.2 points but also shooting a blistering 48.2 percent from beyond the arc.

Anfernee Simons (22.5 PPG, 4.0 APG) has built upon his breakout campaign in 2021-22 as well, easing the scoring and playmaking burden on Lillard in the backcourt.

Shaedon Sharpe, who dropped 20 points in a 109-107 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, looks like a budding star in the making.

Lillard's injury is obviously a setback for the Blazers, and the concern will be heightened since this appears to be a lingering issue. But they should maintain their current level as long as he doesn't miss much time.