C.J. McCollum's role as the Trail Blazers' second option on offense has masked his remarkable scoring ability.
McCollum’s secondary billing on the Blazers camouflages just how remarkable a scorer he’s become. Only 22 players in the league finished the season averaging 20 points per game. Among them, McCollum ranked sixth in effective field goal percentage. Some players buoy their efficiency by driving in volume and creating opportunities for fouls. McCollum manages it by making good on a startling percentage of his pull-up jumpers, both inside the arc and out. That kind of shot profile is amazingly difficult to maintain at McCollum’s clip but benefits from just how difficult it is to deny. When a guard like McCollum can pull up or step back any time he has the ball, the floor for a typical possession becomes a quality look. Accessibility of offense—a crucial element for players who create in volume—just isn’t an issue for a player who can handle and rise up so easily. McCollum also meshes that skill set with complementary function in a way that benefits high-usage teammates. At minimum, he’s an elite shooter running off of pin-downs and spacing the floor from the weak side, perfectly cable of counter driving when the defense overextends. The only awkwardness in McCollum’s game comes from the fact that he hasn’t shown the chops to work as a primary playmaker and doesn’t have the size or length to safely defend top shooting guards. There’s nothing distinctly wrong with falling into that combo guard middle ground, though it does require particular skill compensation from players around him that isn’t always available. (Last year: Not ranked)
+ Rained threes from all over: 40.8% above the break, 44.9% from the corners
+ Effective in-between game of lofty floaters and tricky bank shots
– Doesn’t have much of a feel for defense, either in coverage or rotation
– Ordinary athlete by NBA standards