Damian Lillard actually had enough votes to earn First Team All-NBA honors for the second time in his storied career. Unfortunately for the Trail Blazers' superstar, he just happens to play the wrong position.
The league announced All-NBA Teams for the 2020-21 season on Tuesday, with Lillard earning Second Team honors for the fourth time in his career – and third straight season overall.
Lillard's 372 points in the voting were more than that of any other player on the Second Team, and significantly outpaced the total of Kawhi Leonard, awarded a First Team slot at forward. Lillard's 38 First-Team votes were 10 more than Leonard received, too.
Why the league continues to insist on such strict positional designations – two guards, two forwards and a center – for All-NBA is anyone's guess. The same goes for why some players are categorized at multiple positions and other equally versatile players aren't.
All it takes to realize how wildly outdated the voting system is? A look at the First Team quintet with Lillard in place of Leonard. A five-man unit of Steph Curry, Lillard, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic is plenty realistic.
The voters clearly believed Lillard was deserving of a spot on the First Team, semantics be damned, and it's not hard to see why. He averaged 28.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game in 2020-21 on borderline elite efficiency, dragging Portland to a 117.1 offensive rating – second in basketball behind the Brooklyn Nets.
The Blazers' outstanding offense was made all the more impressive by C.J. McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic missing significant chunks of the schedule, allowing defenses to key on Lillard more than ever before. Undaunted, he put together arguably the best season of his career – despite enduring personal tragedies and a series of nagging injuries – before dominating the Denver Nuggets in another disappointing first-round playoff exit.
Lillard earned his initial First Team All-NBA honor in 2018, also the season he finished a career-best fourth in MVP voting. He was seventh in tallies for the league's highest individual award this season, failing to garner even a single second-place vote.