Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
3. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Lillard is playing with a chip on his shoulder. He burst on the scene as the Rookie of the Year in the 2012 season. He had arguably a better season last year, but going into this season, a lot of so-called experts did not have him listed on their top 5 list of point guards. To be fair, there are a hell of a lot of great point guards around, but Lillard believes he should be on that list, and is playing like he is trying to prove a point.
There are times that this guy just won’t let the Trail Blazers lose. Take the game against the San Antonio Spurs last Friday. He practically dragged his team to a thrilling 129-119 triple overtime victory.
In the first overtime, the Spurs scored the first six points. The Blazers, led by Lillard, stormed back. They held the Spurs to just one point the rest of the period, and Lillard scored five of the Trail Blazers seven points, including the game-tying three with 14 seconds left.
The Spurs again scored the first six points in the second overtime, and again Lillard led a comeback. Finally, in the third overtime, the Spurs could only score seven points, while Lillard by himself had nine. He had 43 points in 52 1/2 minutes played.
Lillard did it again against the Oklahoma City Thunder, scoring 40 points, and leading them back from a 13-point fourth quarter deficit, hitting a game-tying three with three seconds left in the game. Again, the Trail Blazers won the game, and it was because of Lillard.
Lillard has a 22.5 PER, so for as much as he shoots, he is just as effective running the offense. He will remain in the MVP talks for most of the year.
Next: 2. Stephen Curry