It has been more than a month since Trail Blazer rookie CJ McCollum broke his left foot in preseason practice, and the Blazers need him badly. Portland’s depth at the guard positions may run deep in numbers, but it is shallow in NBA level talent. Will Barton and Allen Crabbe have barely seen the floor, while Earl Watson remains sidelined with a calf injury, leaving just Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, and Mo Williams to get things done.
They are faring well enough, but the 3 guard rotation is unsustainable. Sooner or later the Blazers will need their rookie to save the day. This problem is not specific to Portland. Many teams are taking damage without their highly drafted rookies. Four of the top ten draftees have yet to play in the NBA regular season: Otto Porter (Washington Wizards), Nerlens Noel (Philadelphia 76ers), Trey Burke (Utah Jazz), and our own CJ McCollum.
This draft class has been rather bizarre. Even the teams with healthy rooks can’t seem to get them going. Number one pick Anthony Bennett has now shot 1-20 in his first six games, number four pick Cody Zeller can’t seem to pass Josh McRoberts for a starting spot in Charlotte, and number five pick Alex Len doesn’t even shine with the Suns. The rookies that have made a difference have been mostly unexpected. Here’s the short list of healthy players to watch as this peculiar season gets underway –>