The first-round draft pick of the Trail Blazers joins the franchise that boasts last season’s top rookie in Damian Lillard. A major factor he has in common with Lillard is they both came from small schools that aren’t exactly collegiate heavyweights, with Lillard at Weber State and McCollum at Lehigh.
McCollum will give the Blazers another scoring threat and should improve his team’s offense. Whether or not he can be a consistent contributor like Lillard was last season remains to be, seen but there are indications he can be the real deal as a rookie.
At the guard spot, McCollum should be able to make the Blazers a strong team that can contend for a playoff spot, and might find himself in a starting position sometime in the early stages, if not the start of the season. He displayed his offensive potential by averaging 21 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game during Las Vegas Summer League play. He definitely has the offensive skills, but how he adjusts to the better players on the NBA remains to be seen. McCollum needs to be smarter in shooting the ball, something the Blazers coaches will no doubt preach to him all the time.
Portland would like to see McCollum handle defensive pressure better and to shoot the jumper more effectively. He was 36.6 percent from the floor in the Summer League. His average of 3.6 turnovers a game didn’t please Blazers coaches.
But McCollum brings another exciting element to the game for the Blazers. He will see playing time, and he will make rookie mistakes, but if he can endure his moments of mediocre play, expect to seeing McCollum develop into one of the best first-year players in the NBA. He needs to learn how to minimize his mistakes and how to avoid shooting slumps, which can kill a rookie.
McCollum isn’t likely to have the season Lillard enjoyed, but he’s likely to develop into one of the best rookies in the league.