In 2012, a couple perennial All-Stars came into the league. One was a franchise changing center from Kentucky who had all eyes on him for months. The other was an underdog from Weber State.
Fast forward to February of 2018 and Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis are still doing battle, this time for Western Conference Player of the Month.
Let’s break it down statistically…
Anthony Davis – New Orleans Pelicans
Damian Lillard – Portland Trail Blazers
Those numbers are both striking and both deserving of Player of the Month honors. If the award were based 100% on statistics, it would be a coin flip between the two.
For the next exercise in hopes of determining the winner of the award I wanna take a look at each individual’s best game of the month.
Anthony Davis – February 14th in a 139-117 win against the Lakers
42 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 83% field goal, 91% free throw
Damian Lillard – February 14th in a 123-117 win against the Warriors
44 points, 3 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, 56% field goal, 100% free throw, 4 made 3-pointers
Once again, very close. Both have put up astronomical numbers. The edge here probably goes to Davis because of dominance of that game. He shot 83% from the field, including 2 three pointers. How do you stop a big guy that has that range?
For the next statistical evaluation let’s look at the numbers from the All Star game.
Anthony Davis – Starter on Team LeBron
12 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist in 17 minutes
Damian Lillard – Reserve on Team Stephen
21 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists in 21 minutes
While the All Star game will likely not enter the conversation for who is awarded the Player of the Month hardware, it’s interesting to consider. Had Team Stephen won the All Star game, Lillard would have likely been a favorite to win the All Star Game MVP trophy. His shooting from deep was huge for his team. It was a statement game from Lillard, proving that he belonged in that game.
Almost 400 words into this and I haven’t convinced myself or any of you of who should, and will, win this award. What it will likely boil down to is whose team finishes with the better record for the month. After all games on February 24th, that distinction belongs to Davis and New Orleans, however they have 3 games remaining in the month compared to 1 for Portland.
New Orleans closes the month with a road matchup against Milwaukee, home against Phoenix, and then back on the road against San Antonio.
Portland closes the month at home against the Sacramento Kings.
Taken the remaining records into consideration, along with all the stats above, I think that this award will be Lillard’s. He took home his first Western Conference Player of the Month crown last March, will he bring home a 2nd less than a calendar year later?