Is Lillard an MVP candidate?

The NBA season is long and arduous, especially for teams aiming to go deep into the postseason. In that light, you might think a snubbed potential All-Star would look at the bright side: a few days to rest and plot your revenge on those who left you out. Portland's Damian Lillard might well be out for revenge, but he doesn't seem to be relishing the chance to rest.

The disrespect card is a wrongheaded response in most such situations because it implies that there was some sort of collective effort or a personal grudge to deny him recognition. In reality, Lillard is respected across the league for his on- and off-court demeanor, his poise under pressure and for his work ethic. But you can't blame him for feeling the way he does, because Lillard's absence in New York might represent the mother of All-Star omissions.

Lillard is much closer to being a bona fide MVP candidate than he is to being a non-All-Star. And if Lillard makes good on his pledge to ramp up his level of play even more, and the Blazers finish strong, you never know what might happen.