Looking into the Portland Trail Blazers’ presumable future got a little easier this summer after both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum extended their contracts. The crew over at NBCSports, led by Kurt Helin, tried to predict who the 50 best players would be five years from now. They pinned CJ McCollum at no. 42, between Victor Oladipo and RJ Barrett, while Damian Lillard landed at 33, putting him between Lauri Markkanen and Rudy Gobert. In McCollum’s case, they declared that he will work to improve his game, especially on defense.
42. CJ McCollum (Age in 2024: 32)McCollum just signed a new contract with the Trail Blazers that will keep him in Portland through 2023-24. At age 27, it seems likely McCollum will continue to get better on defense… McCollum is a worker, and more importantly, has a mentality that he is a top dog. Lillard or not, McCollum will try to get the rest of the league to recognize his undeniability, and the only way to do that is to get better on D. (Dane Delgado)
In the case of Lillard, they conclude that he too has room for improvement, and that his game lends itself to longevity.
33. Damian Lillard (Age in 2024: 34)
Lillard might not be headed for a “Most Overpaid” listicle in five years the way some have assumed. Instead, Lillard could just as easily transition into a 3-point shooting, high-arc-passing veteran who annoys opponents to no end. Hell, he’s already shown he can take a step forward on defense without relying on his athleticism this postseason. (Dane Delgado)
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