There is no denying Damian Lillard is one of the best players in the NBA and also the most coveted player in the offseason right now. Lillard averaged 28.8 PPG and 7.5 APG for the Portland Trail Blazers this year, who were defeated in 6 games to the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs.
Unfortunately for Lillard, that means he will be involved in trade rumors every day until the start of the 2021-22 season. After all, why should a player of his greatness be forced to play in mediocrity? The team that is most rumored to be in the running for Damian Lillard are the Los Angeles Lakers, and here are 10 reasons why they should get the deal done for the sake of both parties.
10. Los Angeles Need The Third Star
LeBron James is 37 next year and Anthony Davis is often injured. That means the Lakers will very likely be without one or both of their stars at separate points of next season, as was the case in 2021. James simply cannot carry the burden of an entire contending team on his shoulders, and Davis cannot be trusted to be healthy for an entire season.
Damian Lillard is very capable of carrying a team so he can be a bottleneck for the Lakers' injuries and various rotations. Lillard can manage to keep the Lakers afloat anywhere from the 1-3 seed while James rests and Davis comes in and out of the rotation, meaning there will officially be a Big Three in Los Angeles.
9. Portland Will Undergo Changes This Offseason
The Portland Trail Blazers have already made changes to the organization not long after their first-round exit. Head coach Terry Stotts is out after both parties agreed to part ways, and the search for a new coach commences. Not to mention, there could be some very important personnel changes in the locker room.
Jusuf Nurkic is increasingly likely to play for another team and changes in the front office don't help his case for staying. Meanwhile, CJ McCollum is rumored to be on the trading block because he hasn't helped Lillard enough in taking a leap in the postseason. With all these trade rumors and changes, Lillard might not find Portland the most steady franchise to win a title within the short term.
8. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum Will Not Work
When looking at CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard, there is no denying they are one of the best backcourt duos in the NBA if not the best. Lillard is a superstar offensive player, and McCollum averaged 23.1 PPG and 4.7 APG for the Trail Blazers this season. In terms of pure shot-making in the absence of Klay Thompson in Golden State, this duo can light it up better than any other at the guard positions.
But McCollum is a miniature player without much defensive resistance, which means he is too similar to Damian Lillard. The duo can score at will but give up the same amount of points against the best teams in the NBA. McCollum is a star offensive player but Lillard will likely never win a title alongside him.
7. Damian Lillard Is Almost 31 Years Old, The Burden Is Too Heavy
Damian Lillard is in his 30's with only a few years left in his prime. While his shooting ability means he will play a long time in the NBA, he will lose his ability to be a superstar once his athleticism leaves him. That being the case, Lillard should not have to carry the burden of bringing an NBA title to the Portland Trail Blazers as he gets older.
The reason is the burden is far too heavy. Dropping 55 points in a playoff game and still coming up short against the Denver Nuggets was an eye-opener for the rest of the league. Portland simply doesn't have what it takes to get it done in a competitive landscape. Damian Lillard should team up with the Lakers who have 2 stars shouldering the burden, and relieving Lillard from his own.
6. Playing With LeBron Will Improve Lillard’s Stock
Everyone knows Damian Lillard is a great player, yet he gets brushed aside whenever Stephen Curry's name gets brought up. The reason is that Curry is a 3-time champion who has had some all-time great teammates to boost his stock. Without disrespect to CJ McCollum, both Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant were much more important players in the NBA.
Playing with LeBron James will not only boost Lillard's stock as a player but also improve him as a player. LeBron is the smartest player of all time and Lillard has a chance to feed off of an all-time great player as Curry did in Golden State. Being in Los Angeles means Lillard gets to play with one of the best players ever while also getting recognition as a Hall of Famer with a chance to win a ring.
5. The Western Conference Is Loaded, The East Has Brooklyn
The Western Conference is absolutely loaded. Both the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers were bounced in the first round to two of the best teams in the West, the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns. The Nuggets have the league's MVP in Nikola Jokic and Phoenix finished 2nd in the West thanks to Hall of Famer Chris Paul and budding superstar Devin Booker. Even the Utah Jazz have Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, while the Clippers have their own superstar duo.
Coming out of the West is brutal but in the East lies the Brooklyn Nets, who are favored to make the Finals this year. Portland will not be able to compete with these teams every year, while the Lakers can't rely on the health of Davis or the age of LeBron without help. Lillard puts Los Angeles right in the mix in the West with a chance to beat Brooklyn.
4. A Chance To Lead The Lakers With Anthony Davis
LeBron James is the best player on the Lakers right now, but that will likely change next season. Anthony Davis needs to be the best player for the team because a 37-year old King will need to play a backseat role. Looking longer-term, the Lakers need the next franchise star as LeBron rides off into the sunset. Anthony Davis is that guy, but who's his partner?
Lillard has a chance to be one of the cornerstones for arguably the most renowned organization in American sports. Being the face of the Lakers is a privilege, and it will boost Lillard's reputation when his career is completed down the line. Alongside Anthony Davis, Lillard will be a dominant driving force behind one of the best organizations in the NBA for a long time.
3. A Chance To Play With The Best Big Man In The Game
Anthony Davis is completely unstoppable when healthy, which is why the Lakers were the favorites to reach the NBA Finals even with the No. 7 seed in the West. Davis is too dominant because he can take defenders inside and outside with no hesitation. Davis averaged 21.8 PPG and 7.9 RPG this season, but he is capable of much more when healthy.
For Damian Lillard, playing with Davis should be the main reason he should join Los Angeles. Lillard has never had a teammate like Davis before, and certainly not a big man as talented as him. Jusuf Nurkic is a very solid all-around big man averaging 11.5 PPG and 9.0 RPG this season, but he struggles to stay healthy and doesn't have the 30-point per game capabilities of Davis. Enes Kanter is a great rebounder but he is not a star player. Lillard has never had a great big man and forming the best big-man, little-man duo in the league is a perfect recipe for winning an NBA title.
2. Damian Lillard Can Go Where He Is Most Wanted
Damian Lillard has a ton of eyes on him right now, as every NBA franchise wants a crack at trading for one of the best players in the league. There will be a ton of offers coming Portland's way this offseason, but Damian Lillard is a superstar. Superstars have the most power in the NBA right now and can dictate where they go because of their desire for a long-term commitment. Players can make public where they want to sign long-term and only that team will offer the best trade package.
The Lakers want Lillard the most out of any team because he is the missing piece. They have role players, they have superstars, and they have championship pedigree. Lillard completes the puzzle, and the superstar point guard can make it clear he wants to sign long-term with Los Angeles to form the best trio in the Western Conference.
1. Damian Lillard Needs An NBA Championship For His Legacy
By far the most important reason Lillard should join the Los Angeles Lakers is that he needs an NBA championship for his legacy. While loyalty is an attribute that is rare to find nowadays and Lillard deserves credit for that, it doesn't work in today's NBA. Players are joining superteams to win championships, and it is unfair if Lillard gets left behind. The superstar point guard doesn't want to go down in history as one of the best players without an NBA championship.
Playing with LeBron and Davis for the Lakers gives him the best chance to win a title. The Lakers captured the 2020 NBA title last year so they have the recipe, while Lillard can form the best Big Three in the Western Conference. The Brooklyn Nets are a big problem because Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving are the most talented group of players in the league. Lillard has no shot with Portland, but he certainly has one with the Lakers.