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Prior to Injury, McCollum was Focused on the Three Ball

Sports Illustrated’s Michael Pina spoke with Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum prior to his foot injury.

Portland Trail Blazers v Sacramento Kings Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Prior to Monday’s news regarding CJ McCollum’s hairline fracture in his left foot, the Trail Blazers star was producing career-best numbers across the board. The uptick in McCollum’s output and efficiency was tied directly to his commitment to attempts from beyond the arc.

In a conversation with Sports Illustrated’s Michael Pina, McCollum revealed that his decision to let it fly from distance was a product of his relationship with Blazers video coordinator John Yim.

That, in 2021, is the power of a precise, freely deployed three-ball. McCollum’s welcomed decision to embrace it came during the shortest, most confusing offseason in NBA history, when he teamed up with Blazers video coordinator John Yim—an instrumental aide throughout McCollum’s career—to emphasize the effect a dramatic increase in three-point volume would have on his own productivity, along with the team’s success.

Outside of those sessions with Yim, McCollum explained that it was time for his game to move forward into a new chapter.

“I evolved. The game evolved. Mentally and from a maturity standpoint you evolve and you just kind of figure things out. In a perfect world I would’ve been doing this when I first came into the league, but I think the league was different from when I first got here,” McCollum said during a phone interview not even 24 hours before Hawks center Clint Capela stepped on his foot. “I think two to three years ago I probably should’ve been doing it, once the three-pointer became more prevalent. But as the saying goes, better late than never.”

McCollum, who suffered a fracture after Hawks center Clint Capela awkwardly landed on his foot, explained to Pina (prior to his injury) that he hopes to avoid contact underneath as his career advances.

The percentage of his shots attempted at the rim was half what it was last season. “Why go in there with a 7-footer when I can shoot over a 6’ 3” guy or a 6’ 4” guy?” McCollum says. “They want you to play in those spaces. I’ve gotta be very strategic about how I use my body. The ground is undefeated.”

McCollum’s foot will be re-evaluated in four weeks. You can read the complete feature from Pina at Sports Illustrated.