Damian Lillard is one of the best point guards in the NBA. He is famous for being one of the most clutch players in late game situations. That has earned him the nickname “Dame Time.” He is also famous for being one of the most loyal players in the league.
Dame was drafted in 2012 by the Portland Trail Blazers, and he has remained with the team for his entire career.
While fans can certainly respect his loyalty, it also pains them to see a player of his talent go through so much hardship.
Damian Lillard was named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary team. However, he has never won any championships or MVPs. He has not even come close. Part of the reason for that is the failure of the Trail Blazers to surround him with a decent supporting cast.
Lillard has started to be involved in rumors that he could eventually end up leaving the Trail Blazers if things continue to turn out poorly in Portland. That being said, there is still a good chance that he might stay there for the rest of his career. If he decides to do that, is it possible for him to lead the Trail Blazers to an NBA championship?
Can He Be the Primary Option?
If Damian Lillard were to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a championship, the first thing that needs to be considered is if he can be the primary option on a championship team in the first place. In order to do that, let’s first look back at some of the primary options on previous championship teams and see how Lillard compares to these players.
It goes without saying, but the most elite players in the NBA are usually the ones who end up winning championships. Whether it is Michael Jordan, LeBron James, or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, you usually want the best players in the league on your team if you are going to have any chance at winning a title.
The best player on a championship team is usually a top ten player in the league. It is very rare that a team wins a championship and falls out of that trend.
That leads to the next question, “Is Damian Lillard a top-ten player in the NBA?”.
As talented as Lillard is, he is probably not a top ten player in the league (although you could definitely make that argument). Therefore if history is to repeat itself, the chances of Damian Lillard leading the Trail Blazers to a championship as the primary option aren’t looking great.
That being said, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. For example, the Detroit Pistons won the championship in 2004. Chauncey Billups was the best player on that team, but he wasn’t an elite-level superstar compared to some of the other greats in that era. The Pistons had a solid all-around team that put an emphasis on defense.
As a result, they surprised a lot of people by willing their way to a championship through their physicality and teamwork. The Trail Blazers could do the same with Lillard, but they would have to surround him with a much better supporting cast than they have in the past.
Are the Trail Blazers the Right Team?
The next question that needs answering is if the Trail Blazers can ever support Damian Lillard with the supporting cast he needs?
So far, they have paired him with LaMarcus Aldridge entering his twilight years and C.J. McCollum, who is a solid guard but wasn’t the perfect fit next to Lillard in the backcourt. The Trailblazers have reconstructed their roster and have assured Dame that they will build a supporting cast around him.
In order to do that, they have made moves to free up their financial flexibility for next offseason.
The only issue is, Portland is a small market basketball city. There isn’t too much that entices high-tier players to play for the Trail Blazers. To be honest, the opportunity to play with Damian Lillard is probably the main selling point. However, there are several other teams in bigger markets who could make the same type of offer.
Damian Lillard is an elite-tier point guard in the NBA. That being said, he will probably still need another superstar to play alongside him in order to win a championship.
Someone like Anthony Davis or Kevin Durant would be the type of star Dame needs to pair with to truly compete for a title, along with a great supporting cast. That is going to be extremely difficult to accomplish in Portland.
Damian Lillard has put as much effort as he can into trying to lead the Portland Trailblazers to playoff success. However, he needs more help. If he does not get it, he will never lead the Trail Blazers to a championship. It is time for Dame to either get more help or start thinking about finding a new city to call home.
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