When NBA coaches voted for the All-Star reserves, there were going to be slights. Realistically, there are more guards then there are spots. The west has a large conglomerate of dynamic playmakers.
The last spot came down to Chris Paul, Damian Lillard or Tony Parker. Chris Paul is doing Chris Paul things, leading the Clippers to the 4th best record in the West, keeping it all together while Blake Griffin recovers from his quadriceps injury and now a broken hand. Damian Lillard is sixth in the league in scoring as he has willingly and expertly taken on face of the franchise duties for the Blazers. Tony Parker is a valued member of the second best team in the conference, guiding them to an undefeated home record.
It was a Chris Paul win.
Of course it was. Paul is beloved by NBA coaches. The 11-year veteran is an old school point guard. Not particularly athletic, not explosive, but he organizes the offense, he makes big shots when he has to, and when it’s big vs. small like it was in Indiana on Tuesday night against the Pacers, and Paul George was guarding him, Chris Paul drained consecutive 4th quarter jumpers to make sure the Clippers kept the lead and won the game. Chris Paul wins games.
Damian Lillard’s 2015-16 scoring is impressive. He is an elite offensive player. Already, he has had 11 30+ games this year. He dropped 40 against the Warriors. Last year, he had 8 30+ point games.
|Damian Lillard||Points||FG%||3-Point Percentage||30+ Point Games||PER|
Every single Western Conference All-Star guard plays on a team with a winning record. Tony Parker has a real gripe. Of the top 4 teams, he is the only guard left out.
|All-Star Guards||Team Record, W-L||Conference Seed|
|Steph Curry/Klay Thompson (Warriors)||42-4||1st|
|Russell Westbrook (Thunder)||35-13||3rd|
|Chris Paul (Clippers)||30-16||4th|
|James Harden (Rockets)||25-23||7th|
The Blazers have pushed Utah and Sacramento out of the 8th spot, a Lillard accomplishment. It will be a fight to the finish between the three to see who can get enough wins to lose to the Warriors in the first round of the playoffs.
Lillard is low hanging fruit in advanced metrics. He is 76th in the NBA in real plus-minus. Chris Pau; is 7th. Lillard’s 21.8 PER doesn’t stack up against his peers either. He is not in the top-20. Chris Paul’s PER is 24.7. The disparity matters to the analytics crowd but not so much to NBA coaches.
They look at Lillard’s team being four games under .500. They look at Chris Paul’s consistency and wins since Griffin has been injured. That is what ultimately cost Damian Lillard an All-Star nod.
photo via llananba