It’s time to recognize the NBA’s most underrated superstar


Luis Lopez

Luis Lopez, Senior staff member

Since Jan. 1, only one player has averaged more points than superstars Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and LeBron James.

He is making more shots than Curry and Durant, and he isn’t just throwing up shots mercilessly either.

Since that same date, he has also shot at a higher percentage than perennial all-star Chris Paul and NBA MVP candidate James Harden.

His team currently sits at the third seed in the Western Conference, which would tie for their highest playoff seeding since the 1999-2000 season.

The man behind the Portland Trail Blazers’ surging success?

Oakland’s own, Damian Lillard.

The Weber State product, as of March 11, is averaging 26.8 points per game, which is good for fifth in the association.

Lillard sits ahead of Curry, who is averaging 26.3 PPG and right behind James at 26.9 PPG.

Over the past ten games, Lillard has been averaging 33.2 points, starting with a 44 point tear against Golden State on Feb. 14.

Lillard is dishing the ball as well, averaging 6.5 assists per game, which ranks 11th in the league among qualified players, even ahead of Curry.

What Lillard is doing special this season is that he is taking over games when his team needs him to the most.

On March 5, a Monday night game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Lillard scored 39 points, including 19 alone in the fourth quarter, to single-handedly win the game for his team 108-103.

He took over with the Blazers down 11 points in the fourth quarter, at one point scoring 15 straight points.

But when you look at his body of work, none of this should actually be that surprising.

Lillard has been doing things like this throughout his career. For his career, he has averaged 22.9 PPG, which ranks fifth among active players.

The undervalued aspect of Lillard comes when you compare his recent numbers with those of his fellow NBA superstars.

In a league where current superstars predominantly lie at the point guard position, it’s just unfortunate timing for Lillard because he is constantly being overlooked by guys like NBA champion Kyrie Irving and reigning MVP Russell Westbrook.

However, the reality is Lillard’s production belongs in the same ilk as these other point guards.

But why the Oakland Tech High School graduate is constantly overlooked remains inexplicable.

The fact that he plays in the small market of Portland in the Pacific Northwest should not be a factor when he’s playing at such a high level.

With the numbers he’s putting up and the success the Trail Blazers are having, it’s time to recognize Lillard for who he really is, not an underrated player, but a legitimate MVP candidate.