Damian Lillard’s 71-point outburst only hammers down his need for a trade

Damian Lillard (Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports)
Damian Lillard (Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports) /

Why Damian Lillard’s historic 71-point performance is a swift reminder that he desperately needs to land on a contender. 

When word quickly spread that Damian Lillard had 41 points in the first half against the Houston Rockets Sunday night, it quickly became apparent that it was just the start of what was about to be a historic night.

And that’s exactly what happened. Lillard finished with a career-high 71 points as the Portland Trail Blazers topped the Hoston Rockets. While Lillard’s individual performance will go down as one of the greatest showings in NBA history, the unfortunate part of it all is that in the grand scheme of things, Lillard’s big performance came in what could end up being an otherwise meaningless game. And not just because it came in a regular season game.

No, this is not an argument about how the NBA’s regular season is too long or anything like that. No, this is more so about the fact that Lillard deserves to be on a contender and not on a team that is just struggling to make the Play-In Tournament in the Western Conference.

Right now, the Blazers are on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs. And considering how well Lillard is playing, it’s quite unfortunate.

Damian Lillard deserves to play for a winner at this point in his career

At 32 years old, Lillard likely doesn’t have many prime years remaining. He’s averaging 32 points and seven assists on 47 percent shooting from the field and 38 percent shooting from 3-point range. He’s playing at an absurd level once again and deserves the big stage that the NBA has to offer.

But here’s the thing – Lillard has constantly said he is not going to be that player that is going to demand a trade. He’s had multiple opportunities to do that which would be viewed as understandable. But instead of doing so, he doubled down and instead signed extensions with the team.

His loyalty is something that will be remembered for many years to come but will it also be the biggest reason that Lillard perhaps misses out on big playoff moments and possibly winning a championship?

As a selfish fan, it’s going to be unfortunate that we’re likely going to see another playoff run without Lillard. If the Blazers don’t qualify for the postseason this year, it will be the first real playoff absence of his career. Last season doesn’t count considering he missed most of the year with an injury and his rookie season is taken out as well.

What pains me the most about Lillard and the recent years of his career is the fact that even though he’s made the playoffs eight times in his career, he’s only made it past the first round three times and to the conference finals just once.

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The story of the day should be about Lillard’s amazing 71-point performance. But in the back of my mind, I can’t help what the narrative would be around Lillard right now if he was playing for a contender. It’s quite unfortunate.