Trail Blazers fans likely didn’t need validation from the national media to confirm that CJ McCollum is one of the top players in the NBA. However, it has to feel good to see just where he ranks among all NBA players, according to Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney, who placed McCollum at no. 39 in Sport’s Illustrated’s Top 100 NBA Players of 2018.
Golliver praised McCollum’s offensive prowess, but noted his limitations on the defensive end:
Simply put, McCollum is a nightmare one-on-one cover for opponents thanks to his high comfort level pulling up off the dribble, his slick handle to create space, his polished pick-and-roll game, and his ability to be score from 30 feet and in. That last part isn’t hyperbole, either, as McCollum knocked down a Stephen Curry-like 44.6% of his ultra-deep threes (from outside 25 feet).
This charmed story takes a darker turn on the other end of the court, where McCollum’s lack of size and length continues to limit his defensive effectiveness. His Defensive Real Plus-Minus ranks 78th among two guards, in the same range as sieves like Lou Williams and Marco Belinelli, and Synergy’s tracking system rates him in the 25th percentile as an overall defender.
McCollum, who averaged 23 points per game last season, was ranked one spot ahead of recently traded Isaiah Thomas, and one spot behind Suns guard Eric Bledsoe. Notable players ranked behind McCollum include Andrew Wiggins (50), Brook Lopez (45), and Joel Embiid (41).
Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic was ranked no. 69, and guard Damian Lillard will presumably crack the top 30 as more player rankings are unveiled. Lillard was ranked no. 21 in last year’s rankings, while McCollum was ranked no. 50.