Paul Allen had prepared for the worst. He thought his star, who had requested a meeting, was coming to ask for a trade. But Damian Lillard doesn’t roll like that, not this early in his career. He is still loyal to the Blazers. He just wanted a heart to heart that Allen is on the same page on building a contender. You can hardly blame Lillard. He’s looking around to his left and right and sees average players who are not going to advance his agenda. Maurice Harkless and Evan Turner and Al-Farouq Aminu are placeholders until better talent is availabe. But when the Blazers paid them $42 million, $70 million and $30 million respectively, they erased their flexibility to acquire more impactful players, meaning Lillard has to do more. He’s in his prime. He wants to be a regular staple in the Western Conference Finals. That’s not happening with this roster.
Encouraged that he and Paul Allen were on the same page, Lillard was surprised like many of us were surprsied, that he was an All-Star and Lou Williams was not. Williams had a lot of positive pub the last few weeks about his All-Star resume and frankly, it would have been a career highlight. Williams isn’t going to have many opportunities to become an All-Star. With Clippers injuries, he elevated his professional scorer game to brilliant heights and had he been selected and not Lillard, no one would have had a gripe.
But this was the coaches pick and there was a little bias that hurt Sweet Lou. He was a bench player forced into being a starter. He’s one dimensional, all offense, no defense. But what do the numbers say about each player at their respectivce positions of point guard and shooting guard?
Lillard has a higher Real Plus-Minus and scores more points but Williams has a higher three ball and PER. Both provide the necessary punch for their team. Lillard has had 6 games this year where he played 40+ minutes and two games, Utah and Orlando, where he had double digit rebounding games. He had two games of 13 assists and one game of 11 assists.
But he hasn’t had a 50 point game like Sweet Lou. Lillard didn’t have a 42 point game and a 40 point game (Lakers, Charlotte) like Williams had either. But then Williams isn’t out there grabbing tons of rebounds and blocking three shots a game like he did against Phoenix. Lillard had 5 double-doubles. Williams had 3 double-doubles.
You don’t know how close the coaches vote was, what it came down to. One vote? Three votes? Six votes?
Damian Lillard and Lou Williams are in different places in their career and are different players. Lillard is a star, Williams a role player. Williams has been in the league 13 years. He ripped up his ACL. He was a second round draft pick straight out of high school who played for the Hawks, 76ers, Raptors, Lakers, Houston and Clippers. He won Sixth Man of the Year when he was with the Raptors and they felt so humbled by it they didn’t re-sign him.
Despite no one seeing him play one minute of college ball on telelvision, Lillard was a lottery pick who has been in the playoffs every year of his career. He had a dominant rookie year. 19 points, 6.5 assists. 37% from three. He was so spectacular, he basically drove LaMarcus Aldridge out of town. HIs second year, in the playoffs, Lillard made an iconic shot to win a first round playoff series in six games against the Rockets.
Lillard, at 27, has just entered his prime. He’s been a two time All-Star. Had he been an All-Star snub he would have added it to the chip on his shoulder and kept on stepping.
Clearly, an All-Star appearance in the town he plays in meant more to Lou Williams.
Lou is a free agent in July. It is the perfect exclamation point, his 2017-18 season. He should have been an All-Star, yes. There is a strong argument. Lou is a specialist. You don’t know how many of these opportinities he will get.
But, to no one’s surprise, the coach’s affirmed the obvious. It’s a star’s league.