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Friday, December 14, 2018

Articles tagged: Damian Lillard

10 early NBA MVP candidates

Joel Embiid

The NBA season is young, but a number of fascinating storylines have already emerged. Jimmy Butler got his wish and was traded to a contender. The Warriors have managed obvious tension between Draymond Green and Kevin Durant. LeBron James and the up-and-down Lakers are figuring things out on a nightly basis. The red-hot league continues to produce compelling storylines.

We are now a quarter of the way through the 2018-19 season, and a handful of players have stood above the pack as the best in the league. Who will win the top individual honor at the NBA Awards in June? Here are 10 early MVP candidates.

10. Victor Oladipo, Pacers

Last season’s Most Improved Player took a big leap when he transitioned from Oklahoma City to Indiana, and he’s taken another leap this season. The former Indiana Hoosier is back to his roots, and he’s become not only a fan favorite but also one of the most dominant guards in the league. After going toe-to-toe with LeBron and the Cavs in the first round of last postseason (it’s still crazy the Pacers didn’t win that series), Oladipo entered this season with newfound confidence. Oladipo’s two-way play makes him so impressive. Yes, he’s efficient and explosive on the offensive end, but he’s also one of the most dynamic defenders in the league. He’s averaging 1.6 steals in addition to his 21.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game this season.

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10 NBA players off to a hot start

Giannis Antetokounmpo

We’re now four weeks into the new NBA season, and several teams have come out of the gates scorching. The Raptors and Bucks look like the class of the East, the Warriors appear borderline unbeatable, and the young Nuggets have shown they’re ready to contend now.

Those teams’ impressive starts could largely be attributed to the stellar play of their stars. Here are 10 players — including at least one from each of those teams — off to a hot start.

10. Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers

Everyone seemed to be saying the same thing about the Blazers heading into this season: they’re toast. Portland had an impressive 2017-18 regular season, but suffered a brutal first-round postseason exit at the hands of Anthony Davis and the Pelicans. Despite Portland’s regular-season success, Terry Stotts’ job security was in question. Well, Portland has started strong (10-3) yet again, and Damian Lillard is a big reason for that. He’s currently averaging 26.0 points per game on a career-best field-goal percentage (46.5), and free-throw percentage (94.0). He recently hung 30 on LeBron and the Lakers. Lillard looks poised to have a breakthrough campaign thrusting him into MVP contention. He’s on a mission to prove Portland is a genuine contender in the loaded West.

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Role reversal: Damian Lillard breaks news of reporter’s new job

Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard is doing a bit of role reversal.

Used to having reporters break news about him, Lillard has been turning the tables by showing off his reporting chops this week. The three-time All-Star point guard broke news on Friday about NBA reporter Sam Amick leaving USA Today to join The Athletic.

Earlier this week, the Portland Trail Blazers star reported that Chris B. Haynes was leaving ESPN for Yahoo Sports.

Lillard, who averaged 26.9 points per game last season, is still in his prime as a player. But it looks like he’s working towards a potential reporting career after he retires.

Report: Suns tried to trade for top-tier point guard

Phoenix Suns logo

The Phoenix Suns made a rather curious trade on Thursday, but they’ve apparently been trying to make some even bigger moves recently.

According to Arizona Sports 98.7’s John Gambadoro, the Suns have tried to trade for several high-profile point guards this summer. Those include Portland’s Damian Lillard, Charlotte’s Kemba Walker, and Boston’s Terry Rozier.

Obviously, nothing came of any of this. It’s an indication that the Suns are trying to be aggressive and are well aware of their need for a point guard, but they simply don’t have the assets — at least, not ones they’re willing to give up. Instead, they’ve made moves like this one to reset the organization.

Ranking the 20 best players in the NBA’s Western Conference

It won’t come as news to anyone that the NBA’s Western Conference is loaded.

LeBron James’ decision to join the Los Angeles Lakers puts the topper on the most loaded conference in basketball. Beyond James, you have a Golden State Warriors team that will eventually be able to start five All-Stars if they choose to do so. That doesn’t even encompass a number of other superstars playing out West either. We’re already excited for the playoffs.

Who are the 20 best players in the Western Conference? Here’s our list.

20) Donovan Mitchell, Jazz

It may seem premature, but Mitchell is on here as much for what he could be as soon as next season. Mitchell walked into the NBA from Louisville and became one of the major reasons Utah had such a successful season, averaging upwards of 20 points per game. With a year of experience and the motivation from a feud under his belt, there’s no reason to believe he won’t get even better going forward. Did you see how well he performed in the playoffs? That’s just a taste of what’s to come.

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Damian Lillard dismisses concerns that he is unhappy in Portland

Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard dismissed concerns that he is unhappy in Portland.

Lillard spoke with Trail Blazers reporters from the Summer League on Sunday and addressed his status with the team. According to The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman, Lillard said he is “not unhappy” and discussed what he loves about the organization.

Lillard raised some eyebrows last week with a tweet about the Los Angeles Lakers, who made some big moves, most notably adding LeBron James. On top of that, he also seemed to be upset over the team letting Ed Davis go in free agency.

While all of that would seem to point to Lillard potentially having issues with his team, he still is their franchise cornerstone, and it should be remembered that they finished with the third-best record in the Western Conference last season. He’s probably not ready to give all that up yet.

Damian Lillard raises eyebrows with tweet about Lakers

Damian Lillard

The Los Angeles Lakers are still trying to upgrade their roster around LeBron James, but another star seems to be hinting that he wouldn’t mind being part of that solution.

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard went out of his way Wednesday morning to give some fuel to fan chatter about a trade to the Lakers.

Will anything happen? Almost certainly not. It would be very difficult to match up, and that’s assuming Portland would even want to make such a move, which they almost certainly don’t.

It’s interesting that Lillard would even say anything, though. He could have easily ignored the tweet, but he made sure to broadcast it for all the world to see while doing nothing to throw cold water on it. Maybe he was just having a little fun, or maybe he’s sending the Blazers a message. He has, after all, mused about what it would be like to play with LeBron in the past.