Where are Portland Trail Blazers players hottest and coldest from the floor?

CJ McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers) Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
CJ McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers) Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /
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Portland Trail Blazers
CJ McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

G. 34. Scouting Report. #3. CJ McCollum. 4. player. Pick Analysis

Hottest zone: Center court, midrange

— 57-of-120 FG, (47.5 percent)
— League average (42.2 percent)

Coldest zone: Left baseline, midrange
— 5-of-14 FG, (35.7 percent)
— League average (40.2 percent)

If us sportswriters somehow threw an appreciation party for CJ McCollum, we certainly wouldn’t have to cut the cake in too many sections. In between those obdurate in their insistence that he should be traded, and those who still aren’t sure of his backcourt fit with Lillard, positive recognition has been tough to come by (or maybe I’m in the wrong places?)

As a whole, the 2010s decade produced 7 different MVPs; since becoming a starter, McCollum has outscored three of them. Since 2015-16, only five players have scored more buckets than McCollum’s 3,120 — one of the guaranteed trivia questions at said party — and this year, it’s been business as usual.

McCollum’s shot chart shows like a hybrid between an elite, early-2000s scorer and a new-age 2020s one. One way to keep the analytics’ talking heads quiet is to keep take and make the midrange shot, and McCollum does that all the way around the perimeter, sans the far left side.

His hottest spot is Lillard’s cold spot — the midrange shot right around the free throw line. There, he’s taken 120 shots, and smokes the league average (47.5 to 42.2) with a bevy of pull-ups, floaters, step-back jumpers and leaners. A few examples here.

One way to allay those analytical cries to avoid the “middies” are to make up for it from the favorite spots, i.e. the corner 3s. He’s been blistering from either side — from the left, he’s 21-of-35, a 60 percent clip, compared to 39.7 from the rest of the NBA. From the right, he’s 19-of-37, a 51.4 percent clip, compared to 37.8 from everyone else.

McCollum has only two “cold zones,” the left baseline where he’s taken only 14 shots, and at the rim, where his 51.1 percent pales in comparison to a 57.9 league average. Take that with a grain of salt; in the non-restricted area, he’s still more accurate than certified slashers like Donovan Mitchell, De’Aaron Fox, James Harden and Russell Westbrook.

In his Pull Up podcast, he discussed breathing techniques before free throws, and how he hasn’t been able to hit at the clip he hit in 2016-17 (91.2). But that’s grasping at straws. It’s been another great offensive season for the six-year vet, and someone ought to recognize.