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Don’t Overlook CJ McCollum

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Portland’s “other” star guard headlines 5 things we learned about the Trail Blazers this week.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Clippers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This week the Portland Trail Blazers handled the Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies before being cut short in a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Let’s look at some of the things we learned about the team through these games.

1. CJ McCollum Isn’t Appreciated Enough

Damian Lillard is everything for the Trail Blazers right now. When he’s running so strong it’s easy to overlook his backcourt mate CJ McCollum. Overlooking McCollum would be a mistake. He scored 37 against Memphis on Sunday, 33 versus Phoenix on Tuesday. In those games he combined for 24-41 shooting from the field, 10-18 from the arc, averaging 5 boards and almost 5 assists. He wasn’t straining to do it either. He was just ballin’. If Lillard played elsewhere, Portland fans would be buzzing about how special CJ is and how glad they were to have him as the face of the franchise.

2. The Bench Still Isn’t Good

Here are the aggregate bench stats so far this season, NOT including last night’s horrible Clippers game:

  • 42% shooting from the field
  • 2.1 offensive rebounds and 14.0 total rebounds per game
  • 7.1 assists per game
  • 5.5 turnovers per game
  • 10.4 personal fouls per game
  • 26.5 points per game

All of this not-so-goodness comes in 91.5 minutes of play per game on average.

Portland’s bench plays about 38% of their total minutes but scores only 24% of their points. They don’t produce up to their minute percentage in any category listed above save one. 10.4 personal fouls accounts for 42.8% of the team’s total.

This might be copacetic on a team with a dominant starting lineup, but for a squad that counted depth as an asset heading into the season? Ouch.

3. Allen Crabbe Needs to Shoot More

Allen Crabbe is shooting 44% from the field and 37% from the arc so far this season. Those aren’t anywhere near career bests for him, but compared to the rest of the bench they’re practically godlike. Yet Crabbe attempts the 10th most field goals per minute on the team, besting only Shabazz Napier, Ed Davis, and Pat Connaughton. Not so cool, Breeze.

4. Offensive Rebounding Has Disappeared

The Blazers finished last season 3rd in the league in offensive rebounding percentage at 26.0%. So far this season they’re at 16.1%, good for 29th in the league, only ahead of the Philadelphia 76’ers. Last time someone fell that precipitously Bruce Willis was staring down at him in Die Hard.

5. Those Clippers, Tho

I think maybe they remember getting ousted from the playoffs last year.

—Dave blazersub@gmail.com / @Blazersedge / @DaveDeckard