If Portland Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey is ever in need of some new décor around his home, ESPN’s Kirk Goldsberry likely has him covered. In the most recent edition of his annual “Leading Scorers by Zone” chart, memorable Blazers, both past and present, dominated the left side of it.
ESPN’s Kirk Goldsberry charted the NBA’s leading scorers from every spot on the court. Three different Portland Trail Blazers — both past and present — cracked the list.
There’s a rather glaring omission beyond the 30-feet marker, which deserves to be mentioned later. But from what this chart does show, no player has been as potent as CJ McCollum from that 16-feet range and outwards on the left wing.
Take a few steps in either direction and you run into former Blazers on either side, be it San Antonio Spurs star LaMarcus Aldridge or Nicolas Batum, the resurgent swiss-army knife for the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Aldridge nod is a bit surprising, given both his renaissance as a catch-and-shoot big from longer ranges, and with how underutilized his strengths have been in San Antonio in comparison to past seasons. Even so, he’s an extraordinary 14-of-26 inside the arc in that middle zone.
Then there’s Batum, who has carved out a role as a beneficiary of Kawhi Leonard’s gravity, or as a reliable “one more pass” shooter out on that deep left corner, where he’s shooting 12-of-23 to date.
McCollum’s shooting prowess deserves an article in itself. He finally did “good” by the analytics, substituting a few more of his longer midrange shots in favor of the 3-ball.
Yet even with that added selectiveness, McCollum ensured that the left wing would remain a calling card for his offense. He’s 7-of-10 from that left-midrange area, and … *rechecks notes* 22-of-47 from deep in that same vicinity.
That 46.8 percent mark is above league average by a whopping 10 percent. Much of it comes within the two-man game with Jusuf Nurkic. But rest assured, McCollum was piecing together a versatile shot profile that likely would have made him a first-time All-Star in 2020-21, if not for his fractured left foot.
That leaves time for one more topic: five different players made cameos in those zones outside the arc. But what about outside, outside the arc? From the parking lot?
If it were included, Damian Lillard would have been among those making appearances. Lillard has made nine 3-pointers from 30+ feet this season (9-of-30). For comparison’s sake, his otherworldly counterparts — such as Stephen Curry and Trae Young — have five and three respectively.
Suffice to say, Portland Trail Blazers fans will like Pinwheel Empire’s version a little more. But nonetheless, there’s reason to appreciate how many of the NBA’s zone specialists have donned the red-and-black at one point or another.