Portland Trail Blazers rookie guard CJ McCollum, a 2013 first-round pick, was interviewed by Mike Barrett and Mike Rice on this week's episode of Blazers Courtside. Here's a partial, condensed transcript. Video via YouTube user portlandtrailblazers is below.
Thoughts on being in Portland
It's been a lot of fun just getting adjusted to the city out here in Portland and trying to get accustomed to the Trail Blazers way, the rookie duties, stuff like that. I'm definitely enjoying my time here, guys are nice, guys are working hard, the NBA lifestyle is a lot different in terms of the treatment and attention the coaching staff provides for you, along with the training staff and the team masseuse. It's first-class all the way across the board.
LaMarcus Aldridge during workouts
I hadn't seen LaMarcus in awhile. A few weeks ago I worked out at night and he was there. LaMarcus works out at different times of the day, sometimes he's there late at night, sometimes he's working out early in the morning like [Wesley Matthews]. I was surprised to see him because I didn't think the veterans would be in until training camp.
That's every day, what you saw today with us playing. One day I played 10 games, we keep track of the records and stuff. We played that full 65 minutes out so it's best to get as many games in as you can.
Comparisons to Damian Lillard as four-year college player, and expectations
There's obviously going to be expectations, there's a lot of similarities between the two of us, but people have to realize that we're coming into two different situations. I'm coming into his team and LaMarcus Aldridge's team, so I'm just trying to fulfill a role and whatever's necessary to get the job done. I don't feel any added pressure, I put a lot of pressure on myself, I expect myself to perform at a high level regardless of what role I'm playing. I know the expectations and comparisons will be there all season but I just want to put myself in a position to perform at a high level every time I step on the court.
Knowledge you've gained this summer
Summer League was a little shaky for me, there were a lot of ups and downs, I had highlight moments and moments I didn't play as well and make good decisions. I think my game has improved a lot since Summer League alone, getting used to everybody's tendencies, the speed of play, the deeper three-point line. My game has changed a lot and it's going to continue to change when we get closer to the season. I look forward to getting better everyday and learning from the other guys.
I just like to be on the court honestly. [phone cuts out]
Terry Stotts' three-point happy style
I get really excited. Coming from a smaller school, it's a dream to be able to play with great players who are good at different things. You've got guys who can specifically knock down shots, you've got guys who can do everything, guys with great post moves, it's a dream for me be in this situation and system... [phone cuts out again]
Playing with bigs
Joel [Freeland] has a great touch around the basket. I know you've seen a few of his moves today, he's definitely improved his post moves even from Summer League. He's got touch out to 17 feet. Meyers has done a terrific job of improving his jump shot, he's working on his post moves and both hooks, but he's tightened up his mid-range game and he's got range out to the three-point line. [phone cuts out again]
Transitioning from small-school to NBA
I definitely relish the opportunity to have a specific role or a specific duty from the team. I think it will allow me to be more efficient, because I will know exactly what I'm supposed to do night in and night out. I won't be forced to do everything. In college, I had to do the scoring, I had to rebound, I had to get guys shots, I had to defend at a high level. At the NBA I'll obviously have to defend at a high level but my role will be more specific to the team needs.
I definitely sense that a lot of guys are cool and down to earth. It helps that we have a lot of younger guys on the team. Guys understand where guys are coming from and they understand whose team it is. Everybody is just trying to blend in and play a role. Guys are making the extra pass, helping the helper, doing the little things. At the end of the day, we all want to win and make the playoffs.
Damian Lillard work ethic
Dame works extremely hard. Him and Wes were competing, getting in there for 6 AM workouts. Dame is in there pretty much every day, I think that's unusual for guys of his caliber, who might go home and take vacations before training camp starts, but he's been here pretty much the entire time.
I think it's a little premature because we're working on our chemistry together and things like that, but it's definitely a topic that Dame and I discuss a little bit. We haven't talked about it with the whole team yet because the whole team hasn't been here together at the same time. It's unspoken, where you can kind of see the look on everybody's faces. We don't really talk about it but you can kind of see from the whispers exactly what everybody is trying to do.
Nice to be done with college
Class and stuff that was great, I really enjoyed my time there. I'm glad it's over with. It's amazing, you wake up, you play basketball, you lift, you get your core in, your massages. I say it everyday, I don't understand, this lifestyle is almost too good to be true.
New practice facility upgrades
It looks terrific. Everything has been revamped, the TVs in the locker room, the bigger showers, the cool tubs, I used to take ice baths in buckets, so it's great.
McCollum was taken with the No. 10 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. He played for Portland at the 2013 Las Vegas Summer League, averaging 21 points, 4 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 34.6 minutes over five appearances.
Last week, second-round pick Allen Crabbe was interviewed on Blazers Courtside.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter