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Spotlighting and Breaking Down Portland Trail Blazers' Shooting Guard Position

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Spotlighting and Breaking Down Portland Trail Blazers' Shooting Guard Position
Sam Forencich/Getty Images

The Portland Trail Blazers should be a fun team to watch this year. 

They upgraded the level of talent across the board and at each position. So now a team that featured a great starting five but a terrible bench a year ago will be a substantially deeper squad and should have the inside track on a playoff berth. 

But it wouldn't be the Blazers if there wasn't at least some bit of bad luck. 

One of the pieces that they acquired during the summer, rookie C.J. McCollum, broke his foot and will likely miss a substantial part of the season. 

Keeping that in mind, here is a breakdown of the shooting guard position with projected stats. 

 

Wesley Matthews

Wesley Matthews has been a solid contributor since the Blazers brought him over from the Utah Jazz

He is a good defender, an excellent shooter and he compliments point guard Damian Lillard very well. 

Sam Forencich/Getty Images

Matthews is especially effective as a deep-range option, knocking down nearly 40 percent of his triple tries for his career. 

His ability to knock down threes is especially important to this team, as it frees up space down low for LaMarcus Aldridge and the other bigs to operate with less clutter. 

Not necessarily the team's most athletic player, Matthews makes up for it with hard work, determination and smart play. 

What has been great about Matthews over the years is the fact that he really doesn't require the ball too often, yet he still scores his points. 

But Matthews isn't a dynamic scorer. He rarely drives the ball and has become more and more of a spot-up shooter. 

Obviously there is still a ton of value in being able to knock down triples, but the Blazers were looking to upgrade the overall level of talent on this team and McCollum was thought to be an eventual upgrade at the position. 

It was thought that Matthews would start to get his numbers cut into by the rookie, but given the injury, that plan will likely be shelved for the near future. 

2013-14 projected stats: 80 GP, 14.1 PPG, 2.2 APG, 2.9 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 43 FG%, 40.1 3PT%

 

C.J. McCollum

The Blazers thought they lucked out when they picked the Lehigh product in this year's lottery. 

Why wouldn't they? McCollum can score with or without the ball in his hands, he is an elite ball-handler for a shooting guard and he could even handle some backup point guard duties. 

McCollum played with the ball in his hands a lot at Lehigh, but he also showed that he could operate off of screens or as a spot-up shooter. 

It was thought that McCollum would be the perfect change-of-pace guard in the Blazers' system given that he can score in more ways than Matthews. 

But alas, the McCollum experiment will likely be shelved for the time being, as he broke the same foot that gave him problems in college. 

Had this injury not occurred, McCollum would be a likely 20-MPG player. But now, it will be much more difficult to give an accurate prediction of his numbers. 

2013-14 projected stats: 20 GP, 8.1 PPG, 2.5 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1.2 SPG40 FG%, 37 3PT%

 

Will Barton 

Given the injury to McCollum, plenty of the minutes that originally were heading to the rookie will probably land in Will Barton's lap. 

Barton is an athletic freak that closed out last season on a roll. Over the last week of the season, Barton averaged over 15 PPG and six boards. 

Barton gives the Blazers a dynamic, above-the-rim option that neither Matthews or McCollum can match. 

Barton improved at shooting the three towards the end of last year, but he still finished a pathetic 13.8 percent from deep. 

The key for Barton getting more run will be to knock down more triples or at least improve enough to where that is a threat. 

The bigs need a deep threat, and while Lillard certainly gives them, that Barton will have to at least help a little. 

Obviously with McCollum's injury, Barton's numbers will be skewed to be higher at the beginning of the year. 

2013-14 projected stats: 75 GP, 8.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, 40 FG%, 23 3PT%

 

Dorell Wright 

Dorell Wright already figured heavily into the Blazers' plans this year as a primary backup to Nic Batum, but with McCollum's injury he will likely get some run at shooting guard as well. 

Wright is a long, athletic shooter that excels at running the floor. 

Sam Forencich/Getty Images

While he doesn't tend to create much with the ball in his hands, he is an excellent spot-up shooter that will likely help floor spacing immensely. 

He also will be a nice bailout option when the primary play breaks down. 

Wright will still see the majority of his minutes at the 3, but he will probably see about five to nine minutes at the shooting guard position as well. 

2013-14 projected stats: 70 GP, 10.2 PPG, 3.1 APG, 2.1 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 41 FG%, 39 3PT%

 

Mo Williams 

Mo Williams was brought in to be Damian Lillard's primary backup, but with the injury to McCollum, he probably will see some run at shooting guard as well in small lineups. 

Williams has occupied this role before as his ability to knock down big shots has served him well at all of his pro stops. 

Sam Forencich/Getty Images

The main drawback with playing Williams at the 2 is on the defensive side of things. 

Williams is already a passive defender to begin with, but when playing off the ball, he becomes an outright liability. 

The Blazers would be wise to avoid this lineup for more than five minutes at a time, as he figures to get burned as much as he does the burning. 

2013-14 projected stats: 65 GP, 10.5 PPG, 4.5 APG, 2.1 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 42 FG%, 38 3PT%

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