Mac McClung and Damian Lillard share greater than 2023 NBA All-Star Saturday Night time
On the planet we presently reside in right here in 2023, every little thing is about content material. Clips and sound bites dominate the 24-hour information cycle, and with a plethora of stated “content material” to go round consideration can rapidly transfer on to the subsequent merchandise that catches our short-term consideration spans. It’s why social media channels the place second-long movies are so standard. We merely as a society can’t be bothered to remain in a second for too lengthy.
Cease and odor the roses? Provided that they’ve somebody lip-syncing Taylor Swift or Youngboy within the background.
On an NBA All-Star Saturday Night time that appeared largely forgettable earlier than the present started, two stars displayed a degree of greatness that ought to be remembered. And but, it appears as if their impacts could also be fleeting – just like the messages of forgotten on-line do-it-yourselfers or the final cute cat video you watched whereas doom scrolling.
Each Damian Lillard and Mac McClung have each executed actually outstanding issues. However apart from the group posting these accomplishments on their respective feeds, how will they be considered not simply later this yr…however later this month, and even week?
Within the case of Damian Lillard, by most measures he’s posting the easiest season of his already spectacular NBA profession. He’s scoring at a particularly environment friendly charge (130.2 factors per 100 shot makes an attempt – 97th percentile in all the NBA). He’s above common to elite as a shooter/scorer actually in all places however the nook three, and Portland’s offense is 9 factors higher with him on the ground versus with out him – 96th percentile for the league this season.
He’s doing all this whereas posting the best utilization charge of his profession, that means Portland is relying on him greater than ever earlier than. And the ever-loyal Lillard refuses to neglect the place he comes from, at the same time as his wins the NBA Three-Level Capturing Contest.
It’s a disgrace such a season possible will go to waste – at the very least when it comes to postseason play.
On the All-Star Break, the Portland Path Blazers – led by Damian Lillard’s elite marketing campaign – are an NBA Draft Lottery staff. If they’re making an attempt to make the play-in match, a lot much less the playoffs, they’ve a humorous method of exhibiting it. Their commerce deadline deal bringing Cam Reddish and a 1st spherical choose to Portland in change for Josh Hart, appears to be like extra like what a tanking staff would do – not one open to postseason competitors. And the opposite strikes – Matisse Thybulle arriving, Gary Payton II departing – don’t do practically sufficient to alter that look.
The Path Blazers are nineteenth within the NBA in effectivity differential per Cleansing the Glass and their defensive points which have haunted the Path Blazers haven’t any dissipated. The 2 gamers apart from Lillard that had the staff’s highest effectivity differentials have been simply traded (Hart 1st, Payton II third in a small pattern dimension). Lillard could be one of many NBA’s prime 15 or so gamers.
And he could effectively miss the playoffs. Once more.
Since Portland made the Western Convention Finals in 2019, they’ve a dropping report as a franchise. Final season largely with out Lillard is a serious purpose for that. However since Terry Stotts was not introduced again two seasons in the past, the teaching employees has struggled to determine a defensive id and the entrance workplace has been unable to construct a contender round “Dame Time”. Whereas Saturday’s taking pictures show and exhibiting of aggressive fireplace was a reminder of Lillard’s greatness, the very fact stays that the prime of arguably the most effective Path Blazer ever (subsequent to Clyde Drexler) could also be wasted by organizational failure.
Until Damian Lillard is traded, he could by no means see a brighter highlight than All-Star Weekend once more.
In a really totally different method, Mac McClung possible is ready to relate to Lillard’s potential return to relative NBA anonymity. Whereas Dame is probably going a Corridor of Fame-level participant no matter how his staff performs, McClung combating for his NBA life might result in his outstanding Slam Dunk efficiency being the Social Media Period definition of knowledgeable basketball profession “flash within the pan”.
That gained’t be on the fault of McClung’s work ethic. He has shunned extra prolific offers abroad to chase his NBA dream, seeing the worth of the G-League as basically the developmental channel for the most effective basketball on the planet. He has performed in 4 NBA video games in his complete profession, and regardless of a strong school profession at each Georgetown and Texas Tech he has not been in a position to maintain down a spot among the many prime 450 basketball gamers on this planet as an NBA athlete.
He has labored to enhance his sport, exhibiting a tighter deal with and stronger understanding of staff protection as he’s labored by the G-League. And his athleticism has by no means been in query – the younger man went viral as a dunker in highschool. So when he completed the dunk contest representing his hometown of Gate Metropolis, Virginia, few who’ve adopted McClung’s profession have been shocked.
Each dunk by MAC MCCLUNG in his virtually flawless victory on the 2023 NBA Dunk Contest
Faucet the glass over 2 folks: 50
360 windmill: 49.8
Double Pump Reverse: 50
And made each dunk on the primary strive
SHAQ: “He saved the dunk contest” pic.twitter.com/5RGjujUCMU
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) February 19, 2023
However whereas putting odds on Mac McClung to win the Slam Dunk Contest was comparatively straightforward (he was the clear betting favourite nearly in all places getting into Saturday evening), how way more troublesome is it to foretell his NBA future? Is it possible that McClung cracks the rotation of the NBA Finals hopeful Philadelphia 76ers? Is it even potential, exterior of harm crippling the Sixers roster – and in flip their title probabilities?
McClung’s “one shining second” could effectively have been Saturday evening. And that doesn’t make what he did any much less spectacular. Maybe he actually did save the dunk contest. Perhaps the league, as a substitute of hoping stars like Ja Morant and Zion Williamson change their minds about taking part, ought to lean in to the McClung fringe G-League and younger NBA rotation gamers like Trey Murphy III for these contests transferring ahead. Mac’s efficiency was definitely one for the instances, excellent for the period we’re in.
However that’s the rub – and the difficulty for Lillard as effectively. For a short while, McClung ascended to the nationwide consciousness. And shortly, that thought course of shall be on to the subsequent factor.
What’s subsequent for the 2 largest stars of NBA Saturday Night time, nevertheless? That’s to not say their accomplishments shouldn’t be lauded. However each Lillard and McClung need extra – one other playoff run for Dame, an opportunity to show himself as an precise NBA participant for Mac. Will they get these probabilities? The chances are towards them. However for one evening, these two unlikely co-stars shared one of many NBA’s largest phases…not sure of whether or not or not they are going to in the end get what they honestly need.
And those who witnessed these performances shall be on to the subsequent spotlight by Tuesday.