Damian Lillard is the NBA's most underappreciated hero. Ignoring the recruitment overlook (Lillard was a two-star prospect who took a scholarship to Weber State) and the All-Star Game snubs (Lillard was the West's second replacement choice last season and was not selected for this year's game), most NBA fans and critics wrote off a Lillard-centric Blazers team this season.
Portland's offseason saw arguably five of the team's top six players -- LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews, Arron Afflalo, and Robin Lopez -- jump ship.
That put Lillard and the Blazers in rebuilding mode. Or so we thought. Portland clinched a playoff spot last night, and if the team finishes its final two games on the right foot, the Blazers could climb as high as fifth in the West.
Lillard appears to resurface a meme from the summer, depicting Lillard as Will Smith in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Matthews, Aldridge, Lopez and Batum surround Lillard on the TV in the background.
Lillard (25.0 ppg) and sidekick C.J. McCollum (20.9 ppg) have kept the Blazers among the top teams in the league. In 26 games since the All-Star Game, Lillard is averaging 26.3 points with nine games of 30+ points. Portland is 16-10 during that time.
Now, the Blazers' playoff run will feel like the cherry on top of a successful season. Until then, Lillard is calling out the haters.