Craig Mitchelldyer/Associated Press
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard might play LeBron James‘ Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA playoffs depending on how the seeding games unfold in Orlando, Florida, and he isn’t about to give the King any bulletin board material.
While appearing on the Dan Patrick Show, Lillard said he would vote for James over Giannis Antetokounmpo for league MVP.
Lillard highlighted how the 35-year-old James has still been “dominant” in his 17th season in the league. He also gave him credit for leading a Lakers team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2012-13 to the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
It isn’t difficult to make a case for James.
After all, his durability is astounding at this point of his career, and he leads the league in assists per game (10.6). He is also averaging 25.7 points and 7.9 rebounds per night, as he consistently has the ball in his hands and makes an impact on nearly every possession.
Throw in the Lakers’ position in the standings, and he looks like an MVP. However, Antetokounmpo has been even more brilliant.
The Milwaukee Bucks All-Star has the advantage in team record (53-12 to 49-14), points (29.6), rebounds (13.7), field-goal percentage (54.7 to 49.8) and blocks (1.0 to 0.5) per game. He also leads the league with a 31.6 player efficiency rating, per Basketball Reference, while James is tied for eighth with Joel Embiid at 26.0.
Antetokounmpo doesn’t have a teammate as dynamic as Anthony Davis, who helps open up the floor for James and creates a number of easy assists because of how formidable he is around the basket, as a pick-and-roll option and as someone who can pop out to the perimeter.
Lillard may think James is the MVP, but Antetokounmpo has better stats and the better record, all without the help of someone like Davis. He appears to be on his way to repeating as league MVP.
Both Antetokounmpo and James would surely trade the MVP for a championship this season, though.