For the second year in a row, Luka Doncic will start in the All-Star Game, parlaying his prolific season at the helm of the Dallas Mavericks’ offense into a starting nod. He’s a deserved selection, but in his own eyes, the fact that received the honor is a bit of a surprise.
Doncic spoke to the media on Saturday afternoon and expressed that he did not anticipate that he’d be picked as one of the 10 players who begin the game, which will take place next month in Atlanta. This is because he believed that Damian Lillard “maybe deserved” to get the spot over him.
Luka Doncic on All-Star voting results: “I didn’t expect that I was going to start this game. I know that maybe [Damian] Lillard deserved it more than me.”
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) February 20, 2021
To be clear, Doncic has put up gigantic numbers this season — he’s putting up 29.1 points, 9.4 assists, and 8.6 rebounds per game — so this statement is likely more of an endorsement of Lillard than anything. Lillard has perhaps been the league’s most must-see player of late, willing the Portland Trail Blazers to the 4-seed in the Western Conference despite the fact that both C.J. McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic are sidelined with injuries. On the year, Lillard is averaging 29.8 points, 7.7 assists, and 4.4 boards a night, but beyond that, there has been something that feels inevitable about him when he takes the floor that few other players in the league can match.
The All-Star Game is tricky in that there are always more than 10 players who feasibly deserve to start, even if only 10 can get the honor. Still, Doncic is right that Lillard was snubbed.