Damian Lillard's clutch shots could help him earn his first All-Star selection.The NBA will announce its full All-Star Game rosters on Thursday, and a number of players have made a case to make their first appearance in the game. ESPN Stats & Information is taking a five-part look at these players.
5. The Veterans (Mike Conley, Arron Afflalo, Kyle Lowry)
Here is the second part, looking at a trio of players who could be going to their first All-Star Game: DeMarcus Cousins, Lance Stephenson and Damian Lillard. All statistics are entering Monday’s games.
Cousins is having the most productive season of his career, averaging 22.6 points and 11.6 rebounds per game through 40 games for the Sacramento Kings. Cousins is one of three players who ranks in the top 10 in both points and rebounds per game this season (10th and fifth, respectively), joining Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge.
CousinsAmong the top-ten scorers in the NBA, Cousins has been the most efficient, averaging the fewest frontcourt touches per game (40.3). He makes the most of those touches however, as his 0.56 points per half-court touch are the second-most among those top-10 scorers, according to player-tracking data on NBA.com (Kevin Durant, 0.57).
The Kings also lean heavily on Cousins. He has a usage percentage of nearly 33 percent, tied with Russell Westbrook for the highest in the league this season. Usage percentage is an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor.
He has also developed into one of the NBA’s best post scorers. Of 57 players with at least 75 post-up plays, Cousins ranks sixth with 7.1 post-up points per game.
Stephenson has put together a well-rounded season, joining Kevin Durant as the only players in the NBA averaging at least 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists per game this season.
Most RPG Among Guards
Those seven rebounds per game are the most among guards this season, a full board ahead of second-place Russell Westbrook.
Stephenson has been at his best from the paint this season, ranking among the top-10 guards in points in the paint per game (8.0).
The Indiana Pacers have been better with Stephenson on the floor as well, averaging nearly eight more points per game with him on the floor than without him.
In just his second NBA season, Lillard has emerged as one of the top crunch-time players in the NBA, entering Monday’s game tied for fifth in the NBA in clutch-time points (last five minutes of fourth quarter/overtime with score within five), and second in field goal percentage.
Lillard is averaging 20.7 points and 5.6 assists per game this season. He could become the fourth player in Portland Trail Blazers history to average 20-5 for a season, joining Brandon Roy, Clyde Drexler and Sidney Wicks.
Trail Blazers This Season
With Damian Lillard On/Off Court
Portland is averaging nearly 112 points and outscoring its opponents by six points per 100 possessions with Lillard on the floor this season. Last year in Lillard’s rookie year, the team averaged 105 points and was outscored by 2.1 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor.