Another high-scoring affair with little to no organization led to a 138-131 win for the Idaho Stampede over the Rio Grande Vipers. CJ McCollum was clearly looking for his shot in a game where he was allowed to play the fourth quarter, finishing with 24 and not a lot else. He tallied one assist, one rebound, one steal, and three turnovers.
It’s hard to give an accurate individual assessment when every single player is playing to get out of the league, and has no incentive to play team ball and promote movement in the offense. Having said that, CJ McCollum was clearly looking for his shot, and that was probably okay for everyone involved. I said on Twitter a while back that as long as McCollum got 15 points his first game and 20 in his second, he would be pulled back to the Blazers after only two D-league games as scheduled. With 13 yesterday and 24 today, I can’t imagine he’ll be staying in Idaho any longer.
The game itself was another offensive wonderland, and there wasn’t much to note until the game wound down. The Stampede led with a little less than 2 minutes left, and McCollum was a big part of keeping them close. After some back-and-forth, the Stampede were down by two when McCollum danced in the lane and spun it up to tie it. The Vipers responded, and Idaho was down by a pair with just a few seconds left. In Blazers-esque fashion, Dee Bost lobbed it Dallas Lauderdale, who flushed it, tying the game and bringing it to overtime.
CJ McCollum, having reached his 24-minute mandate, did not play in the overtime, but the Stampede didn’t need him, riding Pierre Jackson’s hot hand to the 138-131 final margin.
- A user named Wanda Jo McCollum was commenting on the YouTube stream for the game, claiming she was CJ McCollum’s aunt. When asked if her name was a coincidence, she replied, “he is my brother’s son, no coincidence.” When I said that he is a good player and a good person, as well as a good ambassador for journalism, she replied, “He is a great nephew, as all of my nephews. I enjoy journalism as well.” No way to substantiate she was who she said she was, but given that YouTube was the easiest way to watch this game online, it’s not out of the question.
- 39 points on 15-24 shooting for the Stampede’s Pierre Jackson, who is also the D-league’s leading scorer, after dropping 40 yesterday. As I said last game, the stats impressed, but the eye test didn’t check out. He’s less than 6-feet tall, and he can definitely shoot, but I can’t figure out how he’ll find his way into the league without bulking up, improving his defense, and/or developing elite handles.
- CJ McCollum finally hit a three. That was good to see.
- His most useful NBA weapon will probably be his floater. He doesn’t have elite athleticism or length, but he has good handles to break down defenses enough to get the room needed to drive and float it up. He did that quite a few times this game, with mostly successful results. Since floaters are so tough to guard, it’s easy to see how this will translate against better competition. He might want to help Dame with his… not that they’re terrible, but CJ’s look better.
- D-League basketball, more or less, consists of good athletes playing a scrimmage. There’s not much organization to speak of, and everybody is looking for theirs. There’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but it doesn’t make for fun television, at least not for me.
- Final verdict: CJ McCollum is ready for the pros, and I won’t be surprised if Dorell Wright sees his playing time decreased to make room for him. The Blazers could certainly use another confident playmaker and shooter on the court.