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New Role Still a Work in Progress for CJ McCollum

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Jason Quick of the Athletic looks at the Blazers guard’s challenges in the early going.

Portland Trail Blazers v New Orleans Pelicans - Game Four Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

It’s been a rough start to the season for guard CJ McCollum. Struggling not only with a nagging throat virus to start the season, McCollum’s also had a hard time find consistency on the court. In his sixth season with the team, he is shooting 34.5 percent from the 3-point line and 42.9 percent from the field. Both are the lowest its been since he took over the starting role more then three years ago.

Time to hit the panic button? If you’re CJ or anyone else on the team - not quiet yet. In an interview with the Athletic, McCollum talked about how much a blessing and a curse its been with the Blazers’ new system in play.

“It’s different … it was three years of being with the second unit, understanding the ball was going to be in my hands, knowing I was going to control the pace.”

Compared to previous season’s where McCollum would handle the distribution role with the second unit while Lillard rested for stretches, forward Even Turner has taken over the reins surrounded by shooters. With Turner as a point forward leading the charge, Damian remains with the ball while CJ creates off the ball. The result has been the NBA’s sixth best bench scoring unit. Perhaps more importantly to the team, it’s led to Turner’s resurgence, who is having his most productive season since joining the Blazers in free agency:

“Evan has been great, and that’s what we need,” McCollum told the Athletic. “We need production, we need him comfortable, and in position to succeed. It not only empowers him, he in turn empowers that second unit.”

So far after 10 games, the Blazer’s offense seems to be clicking and with the fifth best offensive rating at (113.5) its without the team’s second best player at 100 percent.

”For me, I can figure it out. It’s still early in the season. I know I can succeed off the ball. I know I can succeed with limited touches...

It’s a long haul, 82 games.”

For more on the story, be sure to check out the Athletic.