Damian Lillard’s play since being left off the All-Star team has been surprisingly underwhelming – especially considering his brash talk of taking frustration out on the league. Maybe this latest development will get him back on track. In wake of Blake Griffin’s elbow surgery to remove a staph infection, the Portland Trail Blazers star has been named a Western Conference All-Star.
The news was announced during ABC’s ongoing telecast of Sunday’s matchup between the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder. It was confirmed shortly thereafter by the league’s official All-Star twitter account:
Lillard is a wholly unsurprising injury replacement for Griffin. We called him the West’s biggest oversight when All-Star reserves were announced in late January, and commissioner Adam Silver publicly lamented that he had to choose between Lillard and DeMarcus Cousins to fill in for Kobe Bryant.
Portland’s point guard is a deserving All-Star. Having said that, recent individual and team struggles make him a much less obvious selection than he was when the rosters were initially unveiled.
The Blazers are just 4-9 in their last 13 games after last night’s dispiriting loss to the Dallas Mavericks. Lillard’s play has been obviously lackluster over that timeframe, too – he’s averaging 19.7 points and 18.8 shots per game while making just 35.5 percent of his field goal attempts.
In a vacuum, his labors should have opened the door for Silver to give serious consideration to Mike Conley or Zach Randolph if an injury opened a roster slot. But the nation-wide outcry regarding Lillard’s “snub” made him an easy choice, and it would not have been a good look for the commissioner to go back on his words, either.
But worthy players are always disappointed at this time of year. Lillard shouldn’t be anymore, and he deserves congratulations for a second consecutive All-Star appearance.
What do you think?
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