May 12, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Marco Belinelli (3) drives past Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum (3) during the first quarter in game four of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

C.J. McCollum’s Potential Highlighted by Patty Mills Parallel

As the Trail Blazers prepared for the 2013 NBA Draft around this time last year, there was talk that C.J. McCollum, a talented combo-guard out of Lehigh, could be available for Portland to take with the 10th selection. He was, the Trail Blazers swooped, and his promising season to come was almost immediately snuffed out when he re-broke his left foot in pre-season. Even after return from injury, the anticipated Rookie of the Year frontrunner faded into the woodwork. He is now the subject of trade discussion as often as he is team building.

Let us not undervalue the latter. I think many of us are still eager to see how quickly McCollum develops and what he develops into. Lately, Trail Blazers talk has been consumed by the touted ‘win now’ mentality, so much so that every Tom, Dick, and Harry has mentioned McCollum in one trade scenario or another (myself included). However; I believe it would be a mistake to ship him out without at least giving him a proper chance. Consider, for a moment, how he stacks up against this former Trail Blazer that was never given a chance in Portland:


C.J. McCollum

2013-14 22 12.5 .416 .375 .449 .676 1.3 0.7 0.4 0.1 0.9 1.4 5.3
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 6/17/2014.

 Patty Mills

2010-11 22 12.2 .412 .353 .451 .766 0.8 1.7 0.4 0.0 1.0 1.0 5.5
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 6/17/2014.


Jun 8, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills (8) reacts after a play against the Miami Heat in game two of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

That’s about as close as you will get to an identical stat-line. Mills was somewhat neglected by Nate McMillan three years ago just as McCollum was somewhat neglected by Terry Stotts this year. Of course, this year, Mills played a pivotal role on a championship team while McCollum merely watched his teammates from the bench like the Mills of old. They are not quite the same player, but given similar opportunities, they could fill similar roles.

Developmentally, McCollum may even have an advantage over Mills on paper. Although I chose to compare the two in years when they were the same age, you may have realized that while it was McCollum’s rookie season, it was Mills’ second season in the league. Mills had already spent one year practicing with his team at that point in time, while McCollum could not have done so. Despite this experiential discrepancy, McCollum put up the same in-game numbers as Mills. He also played in 26 fewer games.

Where McCollum is at a disadvantage is coaching. Even if he is afforded the trust in Portland that Mills never was, I do not think he will realize his full potential as quickly under Stotts as Mills did under Gregg Popovich. Fortunately, there is a good chance that McCollum’s full potential is higher than that of Mills, despite the deserved hype train Mills is riding into free agency this year.

Again, that whole “full potential” business does not deal in immediacy. If the Trail Blazers want McCollum to be their backup point guard (or starting shooting guard) of the future, they need to keep him, teach him, and use him. The best teams can make ‘win now’ contributors out of their best building blocks. McCollum is one of Portland’s best. His potential is just as apparent as Mills’ was, if not more so, and he is in position to capitalize if the Stotts gives him more responsibility.



Tags: Cj Mccollum Patty Mills Portland Trail Blazers

  • Draftdog

    I’ve probably said it before, but let’s get it out in the open. I was very disappointed when the Blazers drafted McCollum. I didn’t like the 10th pick in that draft and wanted the Blazers to trade up for Oladipo; down for a raw but talented prospect such as Gorgui Dieng or Toney Snell; or out of the draft. I new McCollum was a candidate but felt he had serious liabilities at either guard spot. Liabilities that, for me, excluded him. With the physical tools he has, there is very little upside, and his game has holes that will never be filled. My picks at 10 if available were, in order; Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Michael Carter-Williams and Steve Adams. Of course KCP was not available, if he had been I believe the Blazers would have drafted him. To my surprise they passed on the other two, though I do understand the reasoning for passing on Adams, leaving MCW on the board was not something we should expect from Olshey. So much for picking the best prospect available. All that said, now lets hope I was wrong. Only time will tell. He can shoot and he may find a place because Stotts seems to be far more interested in burying the three than getting a stop. Thanks David, for the opportunity to run my mouth…er pen….er key board.

    • David MacKay

      I agree with a lot of what you just said. Remind me to respond when I am not a zombie and we’ll chat some more.

      • Draftdog

        Anytime David. We also might discuss the Blazer’s defensive situation. Check out Bryce Olin’s article and my comment. I didn’t give it much, but for all the words he used he said very little.

  • Paul R

    Paul Allen really liked Patty Mills and wanted to draft him. Paul had a better vision of Patty than Nate did. Nate didn’t like Patty’s defense. It took Pop to tell Patty last summer that he was too fat and told him to get in shape over the summer. Patty’s defense and hustle was clearly better this year. What I can’t understand is why Nate couldn’t have said or do the same thing? Perhaps CJ needs the same schooling.