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CJ McCollum Thrives on the Floater

Portland’s shooting guard makes one of the hardest shots in basketball look easy.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Toronto Raptors Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Damian Lillard leads the Portland Trail Blazers, of that there’s no doubt. But Lillard’s contributions wouldn’t be as meaningful without backcourt partner CJ McCollum, a 20-point scorer with an arsenal as big as anyone in the NBA. Continuing our series on signature shots, today we examine McCollum’s trademark scoring move: the floater.

As simple as a floater can look- especially from the likes of McCollum, Donovan Mitchell, Tony Parker (shout out the floater king), Jamal Murray or James Harden – it’s an incredibly difficult shot that requires supernatural balance, deceleration, timing and touch. Here’s a look at a couple of McCollum’s.

Due to how shots are recorded it’s impossible to get an perfect picture on exactly how many floaters versus driving floaters any player has (different people recording, different standards). However, from what I have been able to gather, nobody goes to the driving floater as much as McCollum and almost no one is close when it comes to efficiency. Kevin Durant is shooting an absurd 65 percent on 37 attempts. In comparison, McCollum has attempted 111 such shots (heading into Portland’s game vs. Toronto) where he is shooting 52.3 percent. Floaters rank fourth in McCollum’s attempts, trailing only jump shots, pull up jump shots and step-back jump shots.

Just look at where he ranks among some of the other renown floater guys In the league: Murray shoots 42 percent on floaters, well below McCollum. Harden 47 percent, Mitchell 40 percent. McCollum is better than anybody (not named Durant) at getting a defender flat-footed, then stopping on a dime and elevating with immaculate touch is second to none. He’s in a league of his own. This skill elevates his interior game when he does struggle to finish at the rim.

Large doses of floaters also explain why McCollum doesn’t get to the free throw line very often. Defenders are so often on their heels that they can’t get to his shot to offer a good contest or in range to foul. What truly separates McCollum is his ability to go to the floater from nearly anywhere inside the three point line. While many think of a 4-7 foot floater, McCollum can unleash it from 18 feet and in- off either foot, going either direction (sometimes fading) adding degrees of difficulty to an already obscene shot.

The shot itself is the perfect example of evolution in the NBA. While McCollum has worked to improve his game at the rim, he’s overcome that deficiency by becoming truly elite with a volume shot, while also excelling as a mid-range shooter to counter defenses that are thrown at him nightly.

We’ve covered Lillard and McCollum’s signature shots, the most important on the team Who’s next? If you’ve got a specific player or shot you’d like me to look at, leave it below in the comments and I’ll take a look at it.