Trail Blazers

The next evolution of CJ McCollum

Trail Blazers

CJ McCollum is a star in this league, teaming with Damian Lillard to form one of the best backcourts in the NBA.

Put the ball in his hand, and he will cook. 

It was like the at Lehigh when he was upsetting Duke and it has been like that in Portland since 2015 when after two years on the bench he was named the team's starting shooting guard. 

This past season McCollum averaged 22.2 points per game, as well as career-high in rebounds and assists at 4.2 and 4.4 respectively. 

But the 29-year-old knows there is still plenty to work on. 

"For one, I could shoot better from the free-throw line. I shot about 76% this last season... outside of that, there's a lot of ways I can improve," McCollum said on the latest episode of the Talkin' Blazers podcast. "I think from a leadership standpoint continuing to evolve, continuing to empower players and have more command offensively and defensively. Understand the team's plays. Understand the team's sets a little bit better. Having been in the league seven years now you kind of know personnel, you know sets, you know schedules. I know how to kind of get yourself ready. Now it's about helping other people kind of speed up that learning curve."

It's obvious that McCollum has a firm grasp of the offense. If the ball is in his hands, good things are bound to happen.

 

As for his leadership, he is already looked to as a leader in the locker room, but knows he can do better. Who better to watch and learn from than Damian Lillard, widely regarded as one of the best locker room leaders in the league?

While working on his leadership is noble, McCollum does know that he has holes on the court that need to be fixed as well.

Defense has long been a soft spot in his game, and he hopes to harden it this offseason.

Obviously, I can get better defensively. Pick and roll, being more engaged, being able to chase better, chase longer on the off-ball screens and things of that nature. Just having a better command.

CJ McCollum on his defense

McCollum recently released his own wine, Heritage 91.  Like a fine wine gets better with age, so does CJ McCollum. Hopefully for Blazers fans, McCollum '21 is the best version yet. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon and special guest CJ McCollum].