NBA All-Star 2021: Luka Doncic says Damian Lillard ‘maybe deserved’ starting spot over him

Earlier this week, the NBA announced the 10 starters for the 2021 All-Star Game, which is set to take place on March 7 in Atlanta. As always, there was plenty of debate about whether the right players were selected — in particular as it relates to the Western Conference backcourt.

The two guards who got the nod were Steph Curry and Luka Doncic, though many believe that Damian Lillard deserved a spot. And, in fact, he nearly did. Doncic and Lillard were tied after the full voting process, which includes input from fans, media and players, and the Mavericks star only got the start because he won the tiebreaker which was based on the fan vote. 

Now, a few days later, Doncic has weighed in on the situation. Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Doncic admitted that he was surprised to be named a starter, and thought that Lillard might have been the more deserving choice. 

“I didn’t expect that I was going to start this game,” Doncic said. “I know that maybe [Damian] Lillard deserved it more than me.”

That was a gracious thing for Doncic to say, but he really doesn’t need to be apologizing. He didn’t have any say in the process and is putting together an absolutely brilliant season. Through 29 games he’s averaging 29.1 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.4 assists. He’s fifth in the league in scoring, third in assists, and putting up career-best marks in both of those categories. If that isn’t deserving of starting the All-Star Game, then what is?

It’s unfortunately just a difficult situation where there are more deserving candidates than spots available. Lillard himself is turning in 29.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 7.7 assists on a nightly basis, and has the Trail Blazers in fourth place in the Western Conference. Surely that’s deserving of a starting spot as well, but only two players can receive that honor, which is why there’s a voting process to make the final determination. This time it just didn’t go Lillard’s way.

The good news for the Blazers’ star man is that he’ll absolutely be going to the game, and in the long run no one really remembers if you started, just if you were there or not. And he will be there. 

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