Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press
In NBA All-Star voting, fans’ ballots serve as the tiebreaker.
That rule just cost Damian Lillard All-Star starter honors.
The Portland Trail Blazers guard and Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks garnered an equal number of votes overall, but Doncic got the nod because he finished ahead of Lillard in fan votes.
Doncic was second among Western Conference guards in the fan vote, while Lillard was third. Lillard finished second in the media and player components of the voting, with Doncic finishing third.
Steph Curry led all three components of the selection process.
This is a hair-splitting process that ultimately doesn’t matter much. Lillard will be among the All-Star reserves in the West. His contract does not contain any All-Star starter stipulations tied to his selection, and few people actually remember who started the game over the long term.
That said, it’s fair to assume Lillard feels slighted.
Lillard is in the midst of an MVP-worthy campaign, keeping the Blazers afloat despite extended absences from CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic. The Blazers are a surprising 18-10 and five full games ahead of the Mavericks in the standings.
Lillard also has a better advanced statistical case.
Lillard real plus-minus (RPM): 5.54
Doncic RPM: 1.89
Lillard RPM wins: 4.93
Doncic RPM wins: 2.89
Doncic has the advantage in traditional stats, thanks to his gaudy rebounding and assist numbers, but has been a less efficient shooter from three-point range.
The fact is that both are overwhelmingly deserving All-Stars, and neither is a particular “snub” by starting over the other. This is just a rare case when the media and players represent one side of the argument, with the fans on the other side.
Given that it’s a spectacle specifically for the fans, Doncic was probably the right call.