C.J. McCollum has signed a contract with the Portland Trail Blazers as the No. 10 NBA draft pick and will try to put Portland on the map for having back-to-back seasons with the top rookies in the league.
McCollum will probably not win the Rookie of the Year, but he’ll make the All-Rookie team. His teammate Damian Lillard was Rookie of the Year this past season; however, McCollum won’t quite register the same numbers as Lillard, but he’ll come close.
The reason why is two-fold.
First, McCollum is a natural shooter. Sure, the teams Lehigh faced will not have the pesky defenses McCollum will have to encounter, but he still has plenty of talent to expose to the rest of the NBA. He averaged 21.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.5 steals in four seasons for Lehigh.
Secondly, the presence of Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge will take plenty of pressure off McCollum. He may start out slow like a lot of rookies do in the NBA, but he’ll eventually catch on and will be an exciting ballplayer.
The key for Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts and his staff will be to give McCollum the best opportunities possible to score with the basketball and make plays defensively. The more defense he plays at an effective level, the better he’ll be on offense.
For most rookies, getting ample playing time is their first goal in the NBA. McCollum is likely to achieve that, but it appears he’ll be able to do even more.