Mid-Major potential tweeners are always difficult to project as to their draft position, but most believe that C.J. McCollum is going to be a lottery pick, maybe even in the top 10, and in the vicinity of first round picks for the Detroit Pistons, Portland Trail Blazers and Philadelphia 76ers.
The obvious comparisons are to Damian Lillard, who had a great career at Weber State and got picked sixth last season by the Blazers. However, he wasn’t a favorite to win the rookie of the year award, and still turned out quite great for Portland, averaging 19 points and 6.5 assists per game. There’s a chance that he and McCollum might even be teammates next season.
McCollum is of similar size to Lillard, but some are doubting if he’s a true point guard, hence the tweener remark. He averaged 23.9 points per game during his Senior season with Lehigh, shooting an amazing 51.6% from beyond the arc, although three point shooting in the NBA is very different. Don’t expect the next Stephen Curry just yet.
Assists? According to Ryan Blake, the senior director of NBA scouting operations, McCollum is much more than just a scorer.
I really like him. Before his foot injury, he was shooting over 50 percent from behind the arc. He was on a team that relied on him not only to score but to distribute. If you look at just his regular field-goal percentage, he was shooting at 50 percent,” Blake said. “When you add in the assists and the steals, I like him as a complete player.
He’s different from Damian Lillard, but the same in that he’s mature and confident and he knows the game. And you have to be that as a point guard and a shooting guard. I think he can play both spots, but I like him with the ball in his hands. When he’s surrounded by four other professionals, I think he’s really going to shine.
Being the next Damian Lillard isn’t such a bad thing to be compared with. But there is the question of needs. Assuming he goes between 8th and 12th, it’s up to the teams there to see if they could use a starting or heavily-used backup at guard. The Detroit Pistons (8th), Portland Trail Blazers (10th) and the Philadelphia 76ers (11th) are more than likely destinations.
The best option for him? Portland. The Blazers are looking for a shooter, and actually any guy of quality beyond their own version of the “big three” (Aldridge, Batum, Lillard). McCollum is a better shooter, on paper, than Lillard, and might be a very nice compliment in the backcourt or coming off the bench behind one of the two (Wesley Matthews in the lineup as well).
The Detroit Pistons, whose only “untouchable” in the backcourt is Brandon Knight heading into next season, could really use someone like McCollum, not having any really dangerous threat from beyond the arc on the roster at the moment. The same goes for Philadelphia, who have Jrue Holiday, but could really use another scorer after averaging 93.2 points per game last season.