The 5-7 Trail Blazers have had a pretty rocky start to their season, and Damian Lillard is partly to blame.
There is no question that his presence on the team gives them relevancy in the West, but just like they count on him for their success, he can also be the catalyst behind their failures.
Through 12 games this season, Dame is averaging 20 points (his lowest mark since his rookie season) on 38% shooting (career-low). It's an ugly stretch for Dame, to put it kindly.
While one could attribute his struggles to a new coach or a new ball, the NBA's new officiating rules could play a significant role as well.
After one of their most recent losses, the Portland star spoke out against the league's new-look officiating.
"The way the game is being officiated is unacceptable. I don't wanna go too deep into it but the explanations, the sh*t that's getting missed, c'mon. Coming in, I didn't feel like the rule change would affect me cause I don't trick the referees, I don't do the trick plays. But it's just unacceptable."
Dame is good enough to adjust to these circumstances, s everyone's expecting him to play like his normal self again soon.
Still, his comments do bring attention to a greater issue: have the new NBA foul rules gone too far?
Forcing an end to foul-baiting and referee manipulation was a great move, everybody can agree to that. But perhaps the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction.
Or, maybe guys like Lillard and Trae Young (who also had something to say about the new rules) are just complaining because they're having trouble getting used to the new way of NBA basketball.
Whatever the case, you can expect the league to monitor this situation all season long, in hopes of perfecting the recipe sometime in the future.