The first set of All-Star voting returns was released on Christmas Day, but the presents were nowhere to be found for the Blazers or their fans.
Portland has been playing as well as anyone this season, yet LaMarcus Aldridge ranked just sixth in votes among frontcourt players, and Damian Lillard managed to come in at just eighth on the list of guards as voted by the fans.
It’s not uncommon for players to put together clever campaigns in order to raise fan awareness and try to gain some additional votes. But Lillard says he won’t resort to using those tactics.
“I didn’t know how it worked,” Lillard said. “I had to ask my agent, ‘How does it work? Is it fans or is it regions? How do they get these numbers?'” …
“(My agent) just told me it was early and you’re just not as popular as these guys, I guess,” Lillard said. “That was my best guess that I’m just not as popular as them.” …
“I’m not going to do a campaign to try to start anything. It ain’t that serious,” Lillard said. “I feel like it’s a respect thing when you’re voted in by the coaches so I don’t mind that.”
It’s a wise choice by Lillard, for a couple of reasons.
First off, he has no shot of being voted in as a starter in the Western Conference. Stephen Curry leads every player in the league not named LeBron James in fan votes at this stage of things, and his play this season has earned him a place in the MVP conversation.
The other starting guard spot will be taken by Kobe Bryant, who, in his 19th season, is almost 200,000 votes ahead of James Harden, and has zero chance of being overtaken by anyone else.
The other reason Lillard doesn’t need to lobby for a spot is that he already has the attention of the coaches, who are responsible for voting in the reserves. He made the All-Star team last season the very same way, and as long as we get six guards in total on the roster (as we did a year ago), Lillard — along with Harden, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul — are the ones more than likely to ultimately be selected.