I still remember when Damian Lillard got drafted 5th overall, I didn’t expect him to become as he
is right now. It was almost as if he was a sleeper going into the draft, I knew he would become a very good scoring point guard but not the elite scoring guard he has been over the past 5-6 years. I was shocked Lillard lost the Golden State Warriors, for some reason I felt the Warriors would’ve caved without Kevin Durant but they just turned it up a notch against the Rockets and Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry turned back the clock to their 73 win season against Dame and the Blazers last year and shot them out of Oracle. If I had placed a bet on that Warriors-Blazers series I likely go Blazers in 6 because to me the Warriors were figured out after the Cavaliers beat them 2016 and Kevin Durant was an overwhelmingly seamless addition being that he is a once in a generation talent. Fast forward to this season and Damian Lillard probably just pulled off the most amazing example of a superstar putting his team on his back and refusing to miss the playoffs despite an up and down season. Anyone questioning whether Damian Lillard is a Hall-of-Famer or not after he imposed his will over his opponents for 8 games to get the Blazers in the playoffs should stay away from watching NBA basketball.
He signed a $191 million dollar extension and won’t see free-agency for at least another 2 years but is it really worth staying in Portland through the prime of your career? What would a championship do for Damian Lillard’s legacy? Will we ever look at him as a top 5 point guard all-time by the time he retires or maybe even the best point guard of all-time? I think he can go down the greatest point guard ever if he could win at least 3 championships, but the way it is shaping up Damian Lillard will be winning no titles over the next few years in Portland. I loved Jusuf Nurkic coming over to the Trailblazers after leaving Nikola Jokic’s shadow in Denver but him and CJ McCollum won’t be enough to win you a title. I love the youth movement with Anfernee Simons,Nassir LIttle,and Zach Collins but no superstar in NBA history could win a title with what Lillard has to work with in Portland. Only Damian Lillard knows what he wants for his career, from the looks of it seems like he’s content with being looked at as a star who stuck it out with his team and didn’t make the decisions LeBron James and Kevin Durant made in order to win the championship was expecting them to win. Damian Lillard won’t be criticized if he sticks it out in Portland and doesn’t win a title but if you are Damian Lillard what else do you want to prove? That you can win an MVP? That will only guarantee you a spot in the Hall-of-Fame but what’s the point of playing the sport of basketball if you don’t win?
I think about Dirk Nowitzki and he reminds me of Damian Lillard because I remember Steve Nash foregoing re-signing with the Dallas Mavericks in the early 2000’s which would’ve gave Dirk Nowitzki a shot at winning more than just one title and than I think about Lamarcus Aldridge who was Damian Lillard’s former sidekick in Portland who let the Blazers for the Spurs. Dirk Nowitzki carried on and dealt with failure after failure, losing to the “We Believe” Golden State Warriors 2007 as his Dallas Mavericks were the #1 seed in the Western Conference making for one of the biggest upsets in NBA history, 4-5 seasons later they add an onslaught of former NBA all-stars in Jason Kidd,Shawn Marion,Peja Stojakovic to go with the best rim protector at the time in Tyson Chandler and win the 2011 NBA Championship. After Dirk Nowitzki captured that championship, nothing else mattered anymore he’ll go down a First Ballot Hall of Famer and arguably a top 30-40 player all-time in the eyes of many. Kevin Garnett was another great player who proved himself as an elite player in the NBA but only won a title after joining up with Ray Allen,Paul Pierce,and Rajon Rondo in Boston. We see Anthony Davis who left the New Orleans Pelicans because he wanted to win and felt that won’t be possible in New Orleans, why can’t Damian Lillard do the same and leave the Blazers because he wants to win?
How else can Portland build around Damian Lillard to give him a better chance to deliver them their first title since the late 1970’s when legend Bill Walton lead the Blazer to their first NBA Title. The way I see it if a top 10-15 player is not walking through that door over the next 2 years it won’t be enough, Damian Lillard is a First Ballot Hall-of-Famer and arguably the greatest scoring point-guard in NBA history but too many other teams boast multiple 2 to 3 top 10-15 players in the game in the game for Damian Lillard to compete and win a title. The Blazers carry an infinite amount of momentum going into the playoffs but I believe there run stops here, at most I see them winning 2 games against the Lakers and you can sleep on LeBron James all you want but he knows how potent the Portland Trailblazers can be with a healthy Jusuf Nurkic who they lacked in last year’s playoffs not to mention the Trailblazers got all the way to the Conference Finals last season without him. After yet another loss what does Portland do to improve the team? Do they re-sign Carmelo Anthony? Trade CJ McCollum for more of 2 way small-forward? Does Terry Stotts get fired? I know Portland Trailblazers will hate a rebuild but let’s be realistic here, the only way I see the Portland Trailblazers winning a title with Damian Lillard as the franchise player is if they manage to bring back Lamarcus Aldridge to Portland and subtract Carmelo Anthony and Hassan Whiteside with defensive wings.
To conclude Damian Lillard has always been aware of the label he carries, I think most of us would agree Stephen Curry,Kyrie Irving,and Russell Westbrook have received more recognition than Damian Lillard has over the past 4-5 years and in a way Russell Westbrook being unable to become a NBA Champion is slowly taking his name out of the elites of the NBA despite being a former NBA MVP and Scoring Champion. Won’t be long before Damian Lillard will be looked at in the same way, does he want to be seen as the superstar who tried his best to will his team to a title but never could? I personally do not know Damian Lillard but the one point guard who can confidently say he is just as good as you is Stephen Curry and he swept you last season due to being on a better team, it’s time for Damian Lillard to take his career into his own hands. The Portland Trailblazer’s fan-base will grow impatient over the next 2-3 years if Damian Lillard does not deliver a title, he will be 33-34 and making upwards of $50 million dollars and by that time fingers will be pointed at him as he would be eating up cap space on the Blazers’s payroll. If the Portland Trailblazers don’t make it to the West Finals at the very least in this bubble, I’m moving Damian Lillard while I still can and extract as many assets as possible while I still can and he is at peak value. Let me know what you believe which route the Blazers should take, till next time.