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CJ McCollum Early Favorite To Win 2016 Most Improved Player Award

Exhibiting tremendous growth in his leap from the Blazers' bench to the starting lineup, CJ McCollum has claimed the lead in the 2016 MIP race.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Third-year Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum is the favorite for the NBA's Most Improved Player award, according to Jacob Rosen of

Here's a portion of what Rosen had to say about McCollum:

Obviously, McCollum played well down the stretch last year. He averaged 17 points per game in the first-round playoff loss to the Grizzlies. But the total season figures paint a perfect picture for his candidacy: An increase of 13.3 points per game over last regular season. The backcourt of Lillard-McCollum is suddenly one of the top scoring duos in the league.

McCollum's 13.3 ppg increase leads the league and he is now averaging 20.1 ppg, good for No. 20 in the NBA. McCollum and point guard Damian Lillard are the NBA's third highest scoring duo, behind Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant and Golden State's Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

Rosen outlines the rest of the MIP field, acknowledging Giannis Antetokounmpo, Andre Drummond, and Reggie Jackson as McCollum's main challengers. Read his entire analysis here.