For Portland Trail Blazers fans the subject of C.J. McCollum is a bit of a lightning rod; some want to see him play more minutes, some not at all while others wouldn't mind seeing him traded away. It just depends on who you ask.
What about McCollum's Fantasy Basketball value? Is C.J McCollum worth investing in by drafting him in your Fantasy Basketball Draft? Is he one of those sleepers you choose because you know other owners will be salivating over if he has a big season or is he one of those players you add to your watch list and wait and see about?
I think it's important to see the initial thoughts Rotowire had about McCollum.
After striking gold with their first-round selection of Damian Lillard out of tiny Weber State last season, the Blazers went back to the small-college pool to nab another guard in this summer's draft, choosing McCollum out of Lehigh. Despite his small-school credentials, McCollum came up big time for the Blazers in the Las Vegas Summer League, averaging 21.0 points and 3.4 assists per game, though it came on a less-than-stellar 37 percent shooting mark from the field. Still, the performance demonstrated McCollum's capabilities as a dynamic scorer, a role the Blazers envision him filling during the regular season as their sixth man. Bench scoring was a major weakness for the Blazers last season and often resulted in bloated minute totals for Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews, so if McCollum continues to transition well to the increased level of competition, coach Terry Stotts should hand him plenty of playing time to keep the starters fresh. Though he should see most of his action at shooting guard, the Blazers plan to give him some time running the point as well, which would provide more opportunities to gather assists.
A broken bone in McCollum's foot derailed what might have been a very promising rookie season. He still managed to play in 38 games averaging 5.3 points and 1.3 rebounds while shooting 41 percent from the floor and 68 percent from the line. I'd like to mention steals and assists but those numbers were too miniscule to matter to a Fantasy Basketball owner and he spent the entire season un-owned in all the Major Fantasy Basketball leagues.
Here's what Rotowire had to say about McCollum prior to the 2014-2015 season.
The Blazers' first-round pick from the 2013 NBA Draft, CJ McCollum's rookie season got off to a bumpy start after he broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot early in training camp. His NBA debut was pushed back to Jan. 8, after which he logged time in 38 of the Blazers' final 47 contests. Outside of scoring, his production was mostly unremarkable - 5.3 points (on 42-percent shooting), 1.3 rebounds, 0.8 three-pointers, and 0.7 assists in 13 minutes per game - but the exchange of Mo Williams for Steve Blake in free agency could provide McCollum with a more direct path to act as Damian Lillard's primary backup. During his second dose of the Las Vegas Summer League in July, McCollum again showed off his scoring prowess, averaging 20.2 points and 2.0 three-pointers in 33 minutes per game. However, since facilitating isn't really his thing, with 10 total dimes through five contests, McCollum may be asked to play off the ball when on the court once the upcoming season commences.
There are a couple of things to note in this forecast; the first being McCollum once again had a very promising Summer League experience and the other that McCollum would be spending more time off of the ball. As in his rookie season McCollum found himself once again injured. When he returned from injury he was largely ineffective and it wasn't until Wesley Matthew was injured that he saw much playing time.
Once McCollum finally had the opportunity to play more than 25 minutes we began to see the potential we saw in the Summer League finally translating to the NBA. During the last five games of Portland's regular season McCollum averaged 17 points, 4 rebounds and 1.8 steals with 2.2 made threes a game on 47.8 percent shooting from the floor, 76.9 percent from the line and 47.8 percent from beyond the arc. During that same five game stretch he averaged 33.4 minutes per game. Assists and blocks weren't there and the undrafted Fantasy Basketball McCollum finished the season owned in fewer than 6 percent of all Major Fantasy Basketball leagues.
2015-2016 Fantasy Basketball Projection
So where does that leave C.J. McCollum in 2015-2016? That's an easy question to answer. We saw the potential toward the end of 2015; when given the chance to play he produced quality numbers that are really hard to overlook. We also witnessed once again an early season injury derail his season, limit his playing time and outside of a freak injury to Wesley Matthews McCollum might not have seen the floor very much if at all.
One factor that will determine McCollum's value will be the future of shooting guard Wesley Matthews. Matthews is an unrestricted Free Agent and if he decides to return to the Trail Blazers, and is healthy enough to do so would probably resume his starting shooting guard role. If Matthews decides to take his talents elsewhere there might be a more significant role for McCollum in 2015-2016.
The other factor is Aaron Afflalo. He has a one year player's option left on his contract and if he decides to opt in coupled by Matthews re-signing with the club there probably won't be much floor time to even bother with McCollum. If Afflalo opts out then McCollum will more than likely get a decent amount of minutes.
There are also a couple of other scenarios to consider. If both Matthews and Afflalo decide to leave the Trail Blazers McCollum could more than likely become the starter and his future minutes would be in his hands. We witnessed what he was able to accomplish with starters type minutes and I could see him as a late round option in as small as a ten team league.
There is also a possibility, if Matthews and Afflalo return that McCollum could be traded. Depending on where he lands that also will have something to do with how we project McCollum for 2015-2016. Given the right situation McCollum could become a value commodity on any Fantasy Basketball roster.
So it's really all up in the air at this point. There are just too many undecided factors involved so I've decided to add McCollum to my watch list and just wait and see how the summer shapes up before fully deciding on where McCollum should be rated in Fantasy Basketball for the 2015-2016.