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ESPN: CJ McCollum Honorable Mention for 2017 All-Star Candidacy

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Kevin Pelton lists CJ McCollum as a potential first-time NBA All-Star in 2017, but suggests that an ascension in the ranks of established players would be difficult in this landscape.

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In the 2015-16 NBA season, Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum averaged a career-high 20.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game, earning the league’s Most Improved Player award as a first-time starter. Can he build on that success in 2017 and become a first-time NBA all-star? Given the plethora of talented guards in the Western Conference, chances are slim, as noted by ESPN Insider’s Kevin Pelton (via Trail Blazers digital content specialist Cody Sharrett):

"The second-leading scorer last season among players who have never been an All-Star, McCollum faces an uphill battle given that his more accomplished backcourt mate Damian Lillard didn't even make the team last year."

Still, McCollum earned an honorable mention among first-time candidates in Pelton’s article (Insider access needed). It stands to reason that a top-20 scorer could rise through the ranks with evasion of injury and continued improvement. Possible? Yes. Probable? Not especially. If making the All-Star team is a goal for McCollum this season, the cards are stacked against him, but when has he been known to shy from adversity?

Perhaps more likely candidates to break into their first All-Star game in 2017 include Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Hassan Whiteside of the Miami Heat, Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz, and DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers, among others.