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Zach Lowe: Trail Blazers Guard CJ McCollum Plays “Like a Running Back”

Zach Lowe has an interesting observation about CJ McCollum’s playing style in his latest ESPN column.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum has experienced a mid-season resurgence after an uncharacteristically slow start to the 2018-19 season. ESPN’s Zach Lowe has noticed, including McCollum in his weekly “10 Things I Like (and Don’t Like)” column today.

After citing the return of McCollum’s three-point shot (with a 40% success rate since New Year’s), Lowe compares McCollum’s style to a football player, combining rushing power with tradmark mid-range artistry.

A personal favorite: when McCollum cuffs the ball like a running back burrowing through the line before reclining, knees up and foot extended to clear space, into an unblockable leaner.

A lot of guards use funky grips to navigate thickets, but you rarely see such extreme football-style cuffs. McCollum tucks that sucker under his armpit!

McCollum can palm the ball. He started cuffing it in elementary school, before he could palm it, and the habit took. “It’s just more comfortable for me in traffic when there could be contact,” he says.

Following an apt video clip, Lowe affirms that the backcourt of McCollum and Damian Lillard remains among the most potent in the NBA.

The Blazers need to get consistent minutes out of folks beyond Damian Lillard, McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic and Jake Layman (LAYMANIA! is sweeping the nation!), but they are a tough out as long as Lillard and McCollum are clicking.

Also in Lowe’s column this week: a comparison between 2019 NBA MVP candidates James Harden and Paul George, a look at the Anthony Davis situation, and LeBron James’ laissez faire approach to the Lakers’ offense.