NBA Star Power Index: LeBron James is finally breaking down; Damian Lillard concludes record-breaking month
Welcome back to NBA Star Power Index: A weekly index of the players who received the most rumors in the league. Being on this list isn’t necessarily a good thing – it just means you’re getting the attention of the entire NBA world. It’s not a rating either. The listed players are in random order. This column will be published every week throughout the regular season.
James made headlines this week for all the wrong reasons. A leg injury is expected to keep him out for at least the next two weeks, and CBS Sports insider Bill Reiter has confirmed that James could be out longer, at least in part, depending on where the Lakers are in the standings. . – weekly checkpoint.
It’s brutal for the Lakers, who are currently below the draw/lottery line after losing to Memphis on Tuesday. The good news is that they are only one game behind the No. 8 Timberwolves, No. 9 Jazz, and No. 10 Pelicans. Can they somehow stay in this race long enough to justify LeBron’s return to the abbreviated schedule?
You can harbor hope so many times only for it to collapse. The bottom line is that the Lakers have been a pretty bad team for most of the season, and the good times don’t last long because LeBron and/or Anthony Davis can’t stay healthy. Which begs the question: is LeBron finally starting to break down physically in his 20th season? Learn this:
LeBron James injury history
first 15 seasons: 71
last 5 seasons: 98*
*all with the Lakers pic.twitter.com/ZupBBPG2BV
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) February 28, 2023
READ: LeBron doesn’t have much time?
Lillard just wrapped up a monstrous February during which he averaged 38.5 points in 10 games, a Blazers franchise record for any single month. In fact, according to research by CBS Sports, Lillard ranks as the five highest single-month averages in the Blazer annals.
- February 2023: 38.5 points per game
- January 2023: 34.5 points per game
- January 2020: 34.1 points per game
- January 2021: 31.5 points per game
- February 2018: 31.4 points per game
That recent stretch, of course, includes Lillard’s 71-point offense against the Rockets on Sunday night. He did it in just 39 minutes with a total shooting distance of 420 feet, an unprecedented achievement in NBA history, or in the case of the latter, since the beginning of the era of shot location tracking (1996-97).
I wrote about Lillard quietly becoming one of the greatest scorers in NBA history. This may seem like an overreaction, but it’s not. Check the numbers.
At the highest level, Lillard has more 50-point games (15) than LeBron James (14). The only active player to score more than 50 points than Lillard is James Harden, who has 23 points. But the most points Harden has ever scored in a single game is 61. Lillard has reached that mark twice and surpassed it once.
Stephen Curry’s career peak is 62, and Curry’s 11 50-point games are also behind Lillard’s total, as are Kevin Durant’s nine games.
Lillard has five games with 60 career points, compared to what LeBron and Curry can claim. Lillard became the second player in history after Kobe Bryant to have two 60-point games in two different seasons, 2022-23 and 2019-20.
Lillard currently has 19,051 career points. If he played another six years, playing just 60 games a season, and averaging 25 points per game, which, if you look at his career scores, is actually conservative on all fronts, he would have retired by now. . became the eighth all-time leading scorer in NBA history, one place ahead of Shaquille O’Neal.
Thing is, 30,000 career points is perfectly legitimate for Lillard, who is likely to average well over 25 points for the foreseeable future. In NBA history, only seven guys have broken that bar.
I am Morant
Morant set the Grizzlies’ franchise record for points in a quarter with 28 points in Game 3 against the Lakers on Tuesday. Morant finished with 39 points, 30 of which came from paint. This is the fourth time he has scored at least 30 points per game, the most by any defenseman since every game was tracked in 1996-97, according to ESPN statistics.
What a night for Ja Morant 👀
– 39 points
– 10 rebounds
– 10 gears
– Grizzlies franchise record: 28 points in the third quarter.
Memphis gets W, 121-109 pic.twitter.com/6jDepZ0gEI
— NBA (@NBA) March 1, 2023
If you were oblivious to the Warriors’ unstoppable struggle, Thompson went back to his old stuff for a long period of time. Scoring 23 points with 3 out of 7 with…