How can a player who plays no defense (Lillard) be a serious MVP candidate?

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How can a player who plays no defense (Lillard) be a serious MVP candidate? 

Post#1 » by LipSkinMatter » Sat Feb 20, 2021 5:32 am

I love Dame as much as the next guy as he's really hard to root against and extremely fun to watch. He's having a great season and I'm in no way trying to say that his horrific defense somehow makes him a bad player overall. His offense is so good that it makes up for that defense ... except when we're talking about the MOST valuable player.

So, how can a player who plays no defense at all be considering the MOST valuable player in the league? Here is a look at Lillard across some different defensive metrics.

DRtg: 118 (one of the worst in the entire league)
DBPM: -1.4 (horrific)
STL%: 1.4 (below average to bad for a guard. Al Horford has a 1.5 for perspective)
DRPM: -1.57 (rank 73 of 85 for PG. Guys around him include LaMelo Ball, D'Angelo Russell and Coby White.)
D-RAPTOR - -4.4 (5th lowest in the league. Reggie Jackson, Westy and D'Angelo Russell are some of the names around him.)
D-LEBRON - -2.69 (dead last among qualified players. I'm sure PIPM has him in a similar range but that's behind a pwall now.)
Blazers DEF EFF - 113.4, 29th of 30

Lillard would have to be the best offensive player in the league by a wide margin to be the MVP if defense is being taken into account at all here. Since we know he isn't the best offensive player in the league by any margin, we can conclude posters who are propping up Lillard as a serious MVP candidate are thinking emotionally rather than logically. He isn't just bad defensively, he's among the absolute worst defenders in the sport.

There are only four serious MVP candidates this year, in order:

Jokic (he might not play great defense but he's passable, and he unlike Lillard is actually the best offensive player in the league to make up for it. 8th in the league in minutes as a center because when he sits the team is brutal. Consistently at or near the top in virtually every metric. If he doesn't win it's because his team blows chode.)

*gap*

Leonard (all around God, improved durability and extremely productive on a team that can win the title. Lacking minutes played compared to Jokic.)
Embiid (has been great on both ends and considerably better than Jokic on defense, but isn't the trancendent offensive talent Jokic is and like Leonard is lacking in minutes compared to Joker as well.)

*gap*

James (The minutes and durability have been there, and the defense has been fine despite coasting. Just doesn't have the consistency or metrics this year to pass the other 3. In the playoffs he's still numero uno but this is a regular season award. Should not win over Jokic, but wouldn't hate him over the other two.)
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Re: How can a player who plays no defense (Lillard) be a serious MVP candidate? 

Post#2 » by GSP » Sat Feb 20, 2021 5:49 am

Ask Steph Curry, James Harden or Russell Westbrook

Portlands defense is horrible without him too. And theyre actually not as bad (still bad) when Cj and Dame dont play together. Give Dame a lockdown man defending guard like Klay as his backcourt mate and its not as big of a problem
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Re: How can a player who plays no defense (Lillard) be a serious MVP candidate? 

Post#3 » by HeartBreakKid » Sat Feb 20, 2021 5:54 am

I wasn't aware he was one tbh. He's always been a bit of a media darling so I wouldn't be that surprised.
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Re: How can a player who plays no defense (Lillard) be a serious MVP candidate? 

Post#4 » by kendogg » Sat Feb 20, 2021 8:01 am

Jokic is the MVP leader of a barely above .500 team when Curry and Giannis aren't and have the same team records? What about Gobert who's Jazz have the best record in the league? I think it's still too early to say there's just not enough games played yet, though I'm not sure any NBA experts would put Dame as a top candidate. I certainly would not put him in my top 5, even though he carries the offense for the 4th best team in the very loaded West right now, which is pretty respectable I'd say.

But you do have to understand that no player can dominate both ends of the floor every possession. It's just not possible nobody has an infinite energy cheat IRL. Even guys with insane motors who are notorious 2-way players like Jordan, KG, etc still took possessions off. Guards can be hidden easier on defense if you have good defensive teammates to back them up (unfortunately, Portland does not). Bigs can't be hidden as easy on defense, because they are the last line, but they can certainly hover in the paint as much as possible and not move unless they have to. ALL bigs are guilty of this sometimes, even very active players with a high motor like KG. Hell, KG even half assed a lot of offensive possessions when he had the ball just standing in the high post for several seconds in a triple threat and then shooting without even putting the ball on the floor. Everyone and their mother knows he was trying to catch a breath more than score at that moment in many cases (not all, sometimes you do need to shoot to keep the defenses honest). There was a LOT of games where KG simply ran out of energy at the end of a game and choked. I'm not trying to rag on KG here (though it is one of my favorite pastimes) but just illustrating a point that NOBODY has such a motor that they can run around for 48 minutes and never stop. Steph Curry has one of the highest motors even higher than Dame, and he's not much better on defense, just luckier to have better defensive teammates. Defensive numbers like this cannot be compared straight up between players because these numbers are relative to their team. You HAVE to account for the quality of their teammates.
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Re: How can a player who plays no defense (Lillard) be a serious MVP candidate? 

Post#5 » by 70sFan » Sat Feb 20, 2021 8:57 am

You can't unless your offense is historically great. I don't think Lillard is on that level.
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Re: How can a player who plays no defense (Lillard) be a serious MVP candidate? 

Post#6 » by AdagioPace » Sat Feb 20, 2021 9:14 am

1) below average MVP overall competition (the current? ....question mark)
2) great record
3) clutch playing
4) beasty/hot hand second half of season


Nash was "freshness" in person
Westbrook did something historical

It would take for Lillard even a more complicated conjunction of favourable factors to win a MVP
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Re: How can a player who plays no defense (Lillard) be a serious MVP candidate? 

Post#7 » by limbo » Sat Feb 20, 2021 11:57 am

By having the power of narrative and raw numbers on his side like Westbrook had in 2017. Didn't lead anything remotely close to a historically great offense but still got the MVP.
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Re: How can a player who plays no defense (Lillard) be a serious MVP candidate? 

Post#8 » by 70sFan » Sat Feb 20, 2021 1:30 pm

For all this talk of how overpaid Gobert is, give me him over Lillard without thinking twice. Gobert is a legit MVP candidate this season, not Lillard.
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Re: How can a player who plays no defense (Lillard) be a serious MVP candidate? 

Post#9 » by sansterre » Sat Feb 20, 2021 2:08 pm

If the Blazers were leading the West, he would be a serious frontrunner. Winning games + being the flashiest member of your team (which usually means scoring) = MVP candidate.

See Iverson, Allen.

Now if you're asking "Can they be the best player in the league?" the answer is very likely "no" unless they're a generational talent on offense.

But MVP? That's decided by stuff far less elaborate than who the actual best player is. It's more often "Which well-known player has the best story of greatness". Playing no defense doesn't really enter into it, save that it makes it less likely that their team will be successful, which makes it less likely that they'll have a valid hero narrative.
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Re: How can a player who plays no defense (Lillard) be a serious MVP candidate? 

Post#10 » by Tarantaraptars » Sat Feb 20, 2021 3:12 pm

I agree as above, if Blazers were world beaters he would get more consideration. But I think he’s a MVP candidate already
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Re: How can a player who plays no defense (Lillard) be a serious MVP candidate? 

Post#11 » by WestGOAT » Sat Feb 20, 2021 3:23 pm

It's not surprising Lillard's defensive metrics look bad, considering that the Blazers are one of the worst defensive teams in the league. What do you expect from a team that plays Kanter and a washed-up Melo major minutes? Nurkić has been injured as usual.

How much is this Lillard's fault? I really doubt any PG in the history of the NBA would make the Blazers that much better on defence. Replace Jason Kidd with Lillard and the Blazers could improve (marginally) on defence, but they'd be worse than 18-10 for sure.

Note I'm not saying Lillard should be considered for MVP, I just don't think it's fair to dismiss him cause of team defence.
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Re: How can a player who plays no defense (Lillard) be a serious MVP candidate? 

Post#12 » by No-more-rings » Sat Feb 20, 2021 3:30 pm

Defense was never a requirement for mvp running. Nash won 2 when he was a negative defender.
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Re: How can a player who plays no defense (Lillard) be a serious MVP candidate? 

Post#13 » by ShotCreator » Sat Feb 20, 2021 3:40 pm

WestGOAT wrote:It's not surprising Lillard's defensive metrics look bad, considering that the Blazers are one of the worst defensive teams in the league. What do you expect from a team that plays Kanter and a washed-up Melo major minutes? Nurkić has been injured as usual.

How much is this Lillard's fault? I really doubt any PG in the history of the NBA would make the Blazers that much better on defence. Replace Jason Kidd with Lillard and the Blazers could improve (marginally) on defence, but they'd be worse than 18-10 for sure.

Note I'm not saying Lillard should be considered for MVP, I just don't think it's fair to dismiss him cause of team defence.

Circular logic. Lillard has terrible defensive metrics because he plays terrible defense. The Blazers are the 29th ranked defense partly because they play Lillard.


Covington, McCollum, and Nurkic all have good defensive metrics. Bad defense does not = automatically had defensive metrics for everyone.
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Re: How can a player who plays no defense (Lillard) be a serious MVP candidate? 

Post#14 » by WestGOAT » Sat Feb 20, 2021 3:58 pm

ShotCreator wrote:
WestGOAT wrote:It's not surprising Lillard's defensive metrics look bad, considering that the Blazers are one of the worst defensive teams in the league. What do you expect from a team that plays Kanter and a washed-up Melo major minutes? Nurkić has been injured as usual.

How much is this Lillard's fault? I really doubt any PG in the history of the NBA would make the Blazers that much better on defence. Replace Jason Kidd with Lillard and the Blazers could improve (marginally) on defence, but they'd be worse than 18-10 for sure.

Note I'm not saying Lillard should be considered for MVP, I just don't think it's fair to dismiss him cause of team defence.

Circular logic. Lillard has terrible defensive metrics because he plays terrible defense. The Blazers are the 29th ranked defense partly because they play Lillard.


Covington, McCollum, and Nurkic all have good defensive metrics. Bad defense does not = automatically had defensive metrics for everyone.


Look like I said Nurkic has been injured as usual. He has only played 280 minutes this season, whereas Lillard has played 895 minutes in total. Enes Kanter has played the most minutes as Portland's big man, and we all know if he is the defensive anchor of your team you are going nowhere defensively. Sure the league has changed and is more perimeter orientated, but bigs are still a major factor on well a team will do on defense, look how well Utah is doing on the side of the ball cause of Gobert.

Similary McCollum has only played 440 minutes this season. So who has been filling his minutes? Gary Trent Jr. (713 minutes) and Anfernee Simons (404 minutes). Consider how well the latter two play defence, and it's no surprise how terrible the Blazers are on defence. Sure Lillard is a factor as well, but he's not the main problem.
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Re: How can a player who plays no defense (Lillard) be a serious MVP candidate? 

Post#15 » by 70sFan » Sat Feb 20, 2021 4:05 pm

So, we shouldn't consider Lillard a bad defender because he played with bad defenders? Lillard didn't always play with poor defenders but he was never good, or even average.
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Re: How can a player who plays no defense (Lillard) be a serious MVP candidate? 

Post#16 » by Fadeaway_J » Sat Feb 20, 2021 5:40 pm

Since when do only good defenders win MVPs?
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Re: How can a player who plays no defense (Lillard) be a serious MVP candidate? 

Post#17 » by Texas Chuck » Sat Feb 20, 2021 5:42 pm

I'll never understand those of you who have such arbitrary rules for greatness. In my NBA Bill Russell and Steve Nash were both great.
ThunderBolt wrote:Some of you guys need understand that not every play is a prophetic vision of the player's career trajectory.

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Re: How can a player who plays no defense (Lillard) be a serious MVP candidate? 

Post#18 » by WestGOAT » Sat Feb 20, 2021 5:57 pm

70sFan wrote:So, we shouldn't consider Lillard a bad defender because he played with bad defenders? Lillard didn't always play with poor defenders but he was never good, or even average.


That's also not what I'm saying.

I'm just very sceptical about using defensive metrics for PGs, which mainly depend on a team's performance, to dismiss Lillard's case for MVP.
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Re: How can a player who plays no defense (Lillard) be a serious MVP candidate? 

Post#19 » by Odinn21 » Sat Feb 20, 2021 6:03 pm

MVP is a narrative award. It's a media award and the media always focuses on something to tell about. Remember when 2008 MVP award was between Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul and before their latest meeting (when 2-3 games left on the calendar), the media was talking about how winner of the game would be the MVP? Or remember when Allen Iverson won the award in 2001 with hype.

The criteria are carrying a team and said team being a high seed (54+ w team) and some story to tell about.
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Re: How can a player who plays no defense (Lillard) be a serious MVP candidate? 

Post#20 » by VanWest82 » Sat Feb 20, 2021 8:27 pm

Odinn21 wrote:MVP is a narrative award. It's a media award and the media always focuses on something to tell about. Remember when 2008 MVP award was between Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul and before their latest meeting (when 2-3 games left on the calendar), the media was talking about how winner of the game would be the MVP? Or remember when Allen Iverson won the award in 2001 with hype.

The criteria are carrying a team and said team being a high seed (54+ w team) and some story to tell about.


I don't see any issues with rewarding winning and using a holistic approach instead of just relying on stats, or giving it to the "best" player independent of results.

Kobe and Paul were the right candidates in 08. Even in 01 AI wasn't all that crazy. Shaq was visibly out of shape that year after winning the title. Vince, TMac, and KG were all pretty good, not great candidates. Duncan probably had the best case but not too many guys win MVP with 22 and 12 on mediocre efficiency. Worst case maybe AI should've been 2nd or 3rd.

If Lillard for MVP does actually gain some steam there will be a vocal contingent from media pointing to the same advanced stats OP did. Lebron might win when he probably should finish 3rd or something, and we'll be able to point to it as a narrative award but Lebron is also awesome and if he can lead Lakers to the best or second best record he probably does deserve to win this one, even if someone like Kawhi maybe deserves it a tiny bit more.

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