The dust has settled from the Trial Blazers’ exit from postseason competition. Free agency, roster construction and the NBA Draft have crept into everyday conversation in Rip City. Before we turn the page on the longest season in the Blazers’ 50-year history, let’s take another look at the players that populated the roster during that journey.
Our most-recent installment highlighted the breakout season that Gary Trent Jr. put together. Today’s post focuses on contributions that CJ McCollum made during the 2019-20 season.
Games: 70 (70 starts) | PTS: 22.2 | AST: 4.4 | REB: 4.4 | FG%: 45.1
What can be said about CJ McCollum’s proficiency on offense that has not been said already? The answer to that question probably falls between not much and nothing. Now through five seasons as a full-time starter, McCollum, with set-your-clock-to-it regularity, has made carving up opposing defenses an essential part of game. Regardless of the changes around him, the 2019-20 season was no different for the former Lehigh standout.
Often overshadowed by Damian Lillard’s explosive stat lines, McCollum’s work on the offensive end should not be completely overlooked. In 70 regular season games, McCollum met or crossed the 30-point threshold on 11 separate occasions. Thanks to big nights like that, he posted a 22.2 points per game average—his second highest season-long average of his career.
Along with his direct contributions to the points column, McCollum’s work as a facilitator showed improvement. Despite running alongside a less-than-ideal group of second-team role players for long stretches, McCollum still found a way to post a career-high average of 4.4 assists per game. Equally as important: he managed to keep his turnovers under control by only increasing his per game average by 0.3 compared to last season (1.5 in 2018-19, 1.8 in 2019-20).
Examining just the numbers behind McCollum’s production is a massive disservice. Equipped with tools that leave defenders shaking their heads, he has become a masterful operator from all three levels. In a late-February matchup against the Pistons, McCollum was firing on all cylinders and turned in a 41-point night.
In the postseason, McCollum was one of the few Blazers players that exceeded and/or matched their regular season output. In five games, he averaged 23.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. In the series finale, without Lillard in the fold, McCollum carried an increased load on his way to a 36-point outburst.
Under contract through the 2023-24 season, McCollum’s future in Portland appears to be built on a sturdy foundation. Trade speculation from outside sources frequently mention McCollum’s name, but there has not been tangible evidence that the Blazers are ready to entertain a move that would break up their star-studded backcourt. Next season, with Nurkic at full strength, the Blazers will look to put their dynamic trio to work in hopes of returning to the Western Conference Finals.