Trail Blazers

How Damian Lillard & CJ McCollum became one of the most feared backcourt duos in the NBA

Trail Blazers

Great things come in pairs.

Peanut butter and jelly; Paris and Nicole; Dunder and Mifflin. You can’t have one without the other and the same goes in the sports world. 

We see dynamic pairings pop up in every sport. Here in Portland, Oregon, Rip City has been blessed with great duo after great duo and today, we are all witnesses to one in particular, that continues to make national headlines. 

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

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Two top-10 picks in back-to-back NBA drafts (2012, 2013) that have stole the hearts of Rip City. Lillard and McCollum have gown to be one of the most feared backcourts in all of the NBA. 

How did they do just that?

Lillard joined Marc J. Spears on The Undefeated Thursday and gave some insight into the relationship between Dame and CJ.

“It’s the work that you do behind closed doors. It always comes to the light. I think because me and CJ come from similar backgrounds as far as our route getting here, being under-recruited players coming out of high school, going to small schools and having to earn everything that we have, we’ve always had to work for it, we’ve always had to believe in ourselves and accepting mediocrity was never a part of that. 

We’ve always wanted more and didn’t expect more. We went after it, and worked for it, and that’s why you see the continued growth.

Damian Lillard

Lillard had one of the greatest careers in Weber State history and finished his career second in school history in career scoring with 1,934 career points, which is also fifth in Big Sky Conference history.

 

He decided to forgo his senior season at Weber State and months later, was selected No. 6 overall in the 2012 NBA Draft.

McCollum had an equally mesmerizing career at Lehigh University. On March 16, 2012, McCollum made national headlines with 30 points, six rebounds and six assists as part of huge NCAA Tournament win over No. 2 ranked Duke. After three seasons at Lehigh, McCollum declared for the 2013 NBA Draft and was selected No. 10 overall.

Two players that have paved the way for small school players to the NBA.

Each season, the two show growth both individually and as a backcourt duo.

“Every season that I get through, I come into that offseason critiquing myself. Looking in the mirror and trying to figure out what can I come back and do better, and he does the same,” continued Lillard. “I think once we get on the court, we allow each other to be our best. If he’s playing great, I don’t try to get in the way of that, and if I’m playing great, he won’t try to get in the way of that, we try to complement it, and I think that’s why it works so well, and I think that’s why we’re able to continue to grow and improve as players. 

We’re just working towards winning a championship, and that can’t happen if we ever settle in and think that we don’t got to work the same, or we don’t get after it the same.

Damian Lillard

This season, that work has become evident.

McCollum is currently fourth in the league in scoring at 27.6 points per game. Two spots down sits Lillard at 26.9 points per game. The Portland Trail Blazers currently hold a 7-5 record this season and while the team continues to figure out the defensive struggles and battling through injuries, one things stands out amongst the rest:

Rip City is in good hands with Dame and CJ together.