Written by: Josh Gutbrod
Don’t look now, but the MVP just got even tighter. While Houston’s James Harden and Cleveland’s LeBron James remain the most likely winners, Portland Trail Blazers lead man Damian Lillard has launched himself into the conversation for the league’s most valuable player.
The Trail Blazers, largely due to Lillard’s incredible level of play of late, has won eight straight games and are currently sitting at third in the Western Conference. Portland is also in first place in the daunting Northwest Division, the only division in the Association to not have a single team below .500.
Over the past 10 games, in which the Blazers are 9-1 and have beaten the likes of Golden State, Oklahoma City, Minnesota and Utah, Lillard is averaging an outstanding 35.4 points, 5.3 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals while shooting a scorching 43% from behind the three point line. For the season, Dame D.O.L.L.A. is currently tied for fourth in the league in scoring (26.8 ppg) and first in fourth quarter points, turning it on in what Blazers Nation has dubbed Lillard Time.
The Trail Blazers have work to do yet if the team hopes to hold onto the 3rd spot in the West, with the team’s next three games coming against Golden State, Miami, and Cleveland, all playoff teams. The Golden State match up especially could really launch Lillard’s MVP argument, as the last match up between the Western Conference rivals saw Lillard drop 44 points along with 8 assists in a 123-117 victory in Portland that kicked off the current winning streak.
Whether he wins the MVP this season or not, Lillard has the Trail Blazers firmly on the rise and has remarked time and time again he has no interest in going anywhere else. With a young core in place around Dame and budding stars CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, there’s no telling how high the ceiling could be out in the Pacific Northwest.