About this time last month, Portland Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless made and appearance in Zach Lowe’s Ten Things I Like and Don’t Like column on ESPN. This time it is CJ McCollum’s turn. McCollum, who has averaged 30.0 points per game since Christmas, continued his hot streak by torching the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers in a back-to-back set this week, resulting in Portland’s first consecutive wins in over a month. Lowe observes that McCollum’s pull-up jumper has already reached an elite level.
In the NBA, there are threats, and there are weapons. A threat keeps a defense on its toes. They worry about it, but they don't change their whole scheme to account for it. They warp everything for a weapon. Nikola Vucevic's midrange shot is a threat. Nowitzki's is a weapon.
McCollum has weaponized an allegedly inefficient shot. He needs almost no space to stop on a dime, snap into that straight up-and-down balance, and rain fire. Keeping up with McCollum around a pick -- being almost on his hip -- isn't good enough unless you can reach around him, Kawhi Leonard-style, and contest his shot from behind.
Lowe backs up his assertion with numbers, pointing out that McCollum makes 46 percent of his pull-up jumpers, which is “best in the league among guys who have fired at least five of those suckers.” He even goes as far as saying that although Lillard holds more value to the Trail Blazers right now, McCollum has “made it a conversation.”
What do you think? Is McCollum one of this league’s deadly shooters? Is he warping opponent’s game plans in his fourth season? How valuable is he in relation to Damian Lillard? Lowe has previously suggested that the Trail Blazers quietly test the market on McCollum; should Portland cling to the rising star or sell high this summer?
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