In the lead up to the 2020-21 NBA season, Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum landed in the second installment of ESPN’s Top 100 Players. Wednesday’s list featured the hierarchy between No. 50 and No. 11. ESPN’s team of experts placed McCollum at No. 27 on the list.
ESPN’s Royce Young cited McCollum’s scoring expertise when discussing the placement of the Blazers guard.
Damian Lillard has the clutch-time reputation, but don’t overlook McCollum as one of the league’s best closers. He slammed the door on the Nuggets in Game 7 two seasons ago with a flurry of midrange mastery, and did it again to beat the Grizzlies in the play-in last summer. McCollum understands his role, but he also has a knack of rising to the occasion.
In the 2019-20 season, McCollum averaged 22.2 points per game on 45.1 percent shooting from the field.
Along with McCollum’s placement, ESPN’s panel of experts circled back to Robert Covington in a roundtable. In the first installment, Covington landed at No. 60. According to Andre Snellings, the former Rockets forward is poised to outperform that billing.
Robert Covington outperforms his ranking every season. He’s ranked 60th on this list, but he was 25th in RPM wins last season for the Rockets and Timberwolves, and 11th in that stat in 2017-18 during his last healthy season with the 76ers. He’s an elite help defender and an outstanding floor spacer as a volume 3-point shooter, two skills that fit perfectly on the Trail Blazers and should help them get to the next level.
You can check out the second installment of ESPN’s rankings at ESPN+ (subscription required).