Damian Lillard was once again snubbed of a chance to start in the NBA All-Star Game after fan voting put Luka Doncic into the starting lineup ahead of him.
But don't expect that to keep Lillard down long. He is known for being resilient and coming out hot when doubted.
CJ McCollum knows this better than anyone else. That's why it's no surprise that Lillard's long-time Portland Trail Blazers teammate seems confident that Lillard will prove his doubters wrong. He even implied that the "debacle" of Lillard's snub could spark him in the NBA MVP race.
Lillard is certainly among the MVP frontrunners at the moment. Despite being down McCollum (foot) and Jusuf Nurkic (wrist), the Blazers' second and third-best players respectively, Lillard has willed the team to an 18-10 record. They are sitting at fourth place in the Western Conference and he is averaging 29.8 points, 7.7 assists, and 4.4 rebounds per game.
But if Lillard goes on a tear after this perceived slight, as McCollum is predicting, that could catapult him up the MVP leaderboard. Catching LeBron James and Joel Embiid will be no easy feat, but Lillard is playing some of the best basketball of his career. And if he lets the doubters fuel his fire... look out.
If Lillard can continue to up his scoring average and extend the Blazers' six-game winning streak, it will be very hard for voters to ignore him. He'll have his next chance to do that on Saturday afternoon against the Washington Wizards. Tip-off for that game will be at 7 p.m. PT on NBC Sports Northwest.