Jun 27, 2013; Brooklyn, NY, USA; C.J. McCollum (Lehigh) shakes hands with NBA commissioner David Stern after being selected as the number eleven overall pick to the Portland Trail Blazers during the 2013 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

C.J. McCollum: Season Reflection and Bust Evaluation


In two days, the NBA Summer League kicks off for the Portland Trail Blazers. C.J. McCollum is entering his second year in the NBA and is listed on the Trail Blazers summer league roster. Drafted 10th overall in the 2013 NBA Draft, McCollum has taken his share of rookie lumps. He suffered a re-broken foot in the 2013 pre-season that kept him out of the first two months of his first NBA season. While he has only been a professional for one season, there are some that are ready to label him as the next Trail Blazers bust.

A year in review reflection is something many people do on a yearly basis. It is a great way to figure out what went right and how to fix the wrongs in the upcoming year. McCollum reflected on his rookie season, putting his thoughts into words for a blog on Basketball Insiders. Here is a snippet of his thoughts:

“Overall, I am grateful for the situation I was drafted into with the Portland Trail Blazers, because I wasn’t given anything. I wasn’t gifted minutes “just because.” I was lucky enough to be put in a situation where I could learn and gain valuable experience from veterans. This makes me that much more hungry, and ready for success, especially when I have watched my peers succeed.”

McCollum has experienced team success as a rookie lottery pick. The Trail Blazers were not expected to be competitive but made the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. This is something that is very rare in the NBA. Most lottery picks are on teams that don’t make the playoffs. Those teams are in rebuilding stages and are not looking to win now. Lottery picks on teams in the developmental phase sometimes play heavy minutes and are often either successful or labeled a bust.

If McCollum was forced to play heavy minutes backing up Damian Lillard, he probably would have a different view of his season. Most likely, the media and fans would call him a bust. Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com recently broke down the 2013 Draft class in order to project the future of its members. Using his projection method, Pelton considers McCollum a bust. His reasoning is somewhat skewed but does have some validity. McCollum played all four years in college (which hardly ever happens these days) and most thought that would make him more NBA ready.

I was convinced that McCollum was a natural scorer and would be a perfect backup to Lillard. I didn’t expect it to be instantaneous but I did believe he would receive playing time by the end of the season. He proved that he can score but success in the NBA requires a whole lot more than that. No matter how much time you play in college, the transition to the NBA is the same for everyone. It’s not easy and most players fail to meet their potential early in their career. Let’s hope that McCollum continues to put in the work and improve in order to prove Pelton and his other critics wrong.

This could be a little more difficult now that Steve Blake has rejoined the Trail Blazers fold. Blake will absorb most of the minutes at backup point guard, leaving McCollum to scrap with Will Barton and, potentially, Allen Crabbe for minutes at the 2 behind Wesley Matthews. The Trail Blazers see McCollum as more of a shooting guard anyway, so with any luck he is up to the task. It will be interesting to see what his usage in Summer League looks like compared to Barton’s, as that could provide a small window into his level of readiness and the Trail Blazers’ intentions with him.

 

 

Tags: Cj Mccollum Damian Lillard Featured Popular Portland Trail Blazers Steve Blake

  • Draftdog

    Unfortunately Mr. Pelton’s evaluation is probably accurate. We can hope against hope, but he lacks the quickness and floor general instinct for PG and the size for the 2. Barton should shine, if he gets his game under control. Crabb looks to have the tools for a backup at the 2, but we need to see more of him. I haven’t read if Pelton ranked Crabb. The rotation will ultimately depend on who Stotts feels fill their needs. In one scenario, Robinson’s development could drastically effect the rotation, allowing Stotts to use Batum at the two. More likely though, Barton will get the most minutes backing up Wes.

  • ripcity_aloha

    Man, you can never tell with these shoot first undersized 2 guards disguised as PG. What sold me on Mccollum was his interview skills. I thought to myself man, this kid is a student of the game and really loves basketball. He is gonna come in and work hard. I think he did fine baring the injury and his situation. To me he was touted as the 6th man of the future, and can very well still be. I think he realized that the NBA is much faster and guys are not gonna bite at his crossovers. That was his go to. As a back up PG he is gonna have to learn the PnR, pull up, and to get other gets open shots in rhythm. That sort of skill takes time and is a bigger transition than fans realize. I think he is capable.

    Being in Portland is probably the best thing for his career because he is learning how to play basketball the right way. Had he gone to a crappy team he might form bad chucking habits. Its really hard to find a balance between taking good confident shots and bad shots for rookies who were formerly go-tos. Learning to make good decisions and play in the flow of the offense is acquired. CJ definitely has the mental capability to do so. I’m looking forward to seeing the rookies fight for it. May the best man win.