Will CJ McCollum's Eventual Return Impact Blazers' Offensive Balance?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets' struggles are related to the number of players that need the ball in their hands. Could the Portland Trail Blazers soon face similar issues?

In a league trending toward Big Threes and infamous Super Teams, there's an obvious draw for superstars to partner with other elite players to compete at a high level.

The biggest issue, though, is figuring out how to please all parties when everyone is used to having the ball in his hands.

The start of the 2013 season has certainly had its surprises: Phoenix and Philadelphia, both anticipated to be bottom-feeders, are playing at a high level. Other teams like Cleveland and Washington are trending the other direction early on when making the playoffs was the goal.

The biggest surprise of the year, however, may be the Brooklyn Nets.

Now featuring a roster full of All-Stars, NBA Finals heroes and future Hall of Famers, not to mention a new coach, the Nets assembled a roster of guys that know what to do with the ball.

The problem is, they all made their careers with the ball in their hands - and often look lost without it.

That was the story SB Nation's Tom Ziller told after the Nets were blown out by his beloved Kings in Sacramento this week. In his words, "It looks like there's an issue getting all of these stars comfortable [to start the year]."

"Brooklyn doesn't have a team of stars, they have a team of stars masquerading as role players," Ziller asserts.

He concludes his piece by arguing for more offensive responsibility falling on the original trio in Brooklyn: Deron WilliamsJoe Johnson and Brook Lopez. With extremely low usage rates (in Johnson's case, the lowest since his rookie season) and a star in Williams playing under 30 minutes a game and averaging a whopping 10 shot attempts a game, there's really a watering down of the talent they've built over the last few years.

The concept of gaining comfort with your teammates -- and potentially having a group a guys that all need the ball to succeed -- isn't exclusive to Brooklyn. New Orleans, now pairing ball-dominant combinations of Eric GordonJrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans, haven't fared so well to start the year. Even Memphis, a team that went to the Western Conference Finals last year, have players from Mike Conley to Zach Randolph to Jerryd Bayless that all require the ball to create and haven't quite captured the magic from last season.

Though the team has sprung out to a strong start, the Portland Trail Blazers can't ignore the fact that this issue may also become a reality at some point this season.

This week in our attempted videocast edition of your mailbags (we'll be back next week!), the main theme of the questions sent in related to the Blazers' rotation. One of the most important players that came up during that discussion was CJ McCollum, a ball-dominant guard whose return-to-action talk brought questions to the conversation about where he fits into the rotation.

The Blazers backcourt already seems full. As Dave points out in the aforementioned mailbag, McCollum and current backup guard Mo Williams really are similar players: they can both fill it up, and both tend to give it up on the other end. Dave's other point here is that Terry Stotts developed this current rotation based on the players that he feels can successfully deliver wins. If McCollum can contribute to that end goal, there will be playing time to be had.

McCollum's skillset, at least as we understand from Summer League and his time at Lehigh, is as a scorer first. Yes, Damian Lillard was in a similar situation entering the league because he hadn't been presented the opportunity to be a distributor, but he showed early that he could find success as both a scorer and play-maker. Lillard joined a lineup that needed all the scoring he could give; McCollum, on the other hand, adds yet another scoring option alongside Lillard and Williams, two primary ball-handlers, and LaMarcus Aldridge, who needs the ball at some point too.

Pretty soon, Portland may be forced into a situation like Brooklyn and others: How do you share the ball among players who all seemingly need it?

There are two directions this can go. The first is the way of the Nets, Pelicans, etc. to start the year. However there are plenty of examples of this going the other way.

Just within recent memory, teams like the San Antonio SpursMiami Heat and Golden State Warriors have figured out how to work together with guys that score. It took a couple years in Miami, many years in San Antonio and is still improving in Golden State, so it isn't necessarily a quick fix. When working correctly, these teams can be offensive juggernauts.

The Blazers adding yet another scorer off the bench could be a tremendous asset, and could allow them to truly flex the muscles of their deep bench. However, if they can't successfully mesh together, the offense that has raced out to a great start this season could hit some speed bumps.

Brooklyn bolstering its roster went from being a luxury to potentially disastrous in a matter of weeks.

That tipping point could soon be a reality in Portland as well.

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