The Portland Trail Blazers suffered an off-night offensively on Saturday against one of the worst defenses in the NBA in the Philadelphia 76ers. The Blazers were still in the game, but ultimately fell to the Sixers in a tight one, with the final score coming in at 101-99 and the Blazers dropping just their eighth game of the season.
While Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum combining to shoot just 11-41 from the field certainly hurt Portland’s chances on Saturday, what really hurt was their production from the bench, a problem that plagued them all of last season. Of the four players to see time as a reserve, only Mo Williams scored more than four points on Saturday against Philly.
Portland’s bench is much improved from last season, largely due to their efforts to improve that area this offseason after having the worst bench in the NBA last season. However, they are finally getting one of their most important new reserve plays in their lineup this week.
According to a report from Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, rookie C.J. McCollum has finished his rehab assignment in the D-League and is set to join the team. He could play for Portland as early as Tuesday after missing all season due to a foot injury suffered in the preseason.
In college, McCollum played for mid-major Lehigh and showed a phenomenal ability on the offensive end of the floor. He can attack off of the dribble, pull up for a shot, and knock down set jumpers as well. Adding a player with his offensive talent is going to be huge for the Blazers’ bench.
While McCollum might have growing pains, he was one of the most celebrated players in this draft class with many people championing his chances to be a good pro. If he can come in and get accustomed to the NBA game relatively quickly, he could elevate the Blazers to an even higher level than they’ve already been playing at.
Can the Trail Blazers keep it up as we head into 2014? As long as Aldridge and Lillard continue their stellar play, they will undoubtedly be one of the better teams in the conference, and hopefully with McCollum’s debut, Portland will maintain its standing among the Western Conference elites.