Since returning from a broken foot McCollum has played in just 17 games, but in that time he has shown flashes of being the elite combo guard the Trail Blazers hoped when they spent a lottery pick on him.
McCollum’s averages of 6.9 points, 1.4 rebounds and 0.9 assists per game on 44.4 percent shooting overall and 41.9 percent from deep don’t jump off the page, but he’s playing just 15.2 minutes per game.
Prorated over 36 minutes, however, his numbers are strong. He’s posting 16.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists, and looks incredibly poised for a rookie.
For the early part of the season Mo Williams was Portland’s primary reserve ball-handler, and while he has done a nice job pushing the ball and shooting from outside, his defense is atrocious and he’s not the scoring threat he once was.
Additionally, McCollum has been better at the point than the off-guard spot. His Player Efficiency Rating at the 1 is 14.0, while his PER at the 2 is just 10.6, per 82Games.
At 6’4” McCollum is not suited to cover the league’s bigger, more physical shooting guards. While the pairing of Williams and McCollum works offensively, it makes Portland’s shaky perimeter defense even worse.
While there is a possibility the Blazers ship McCollum out for immediate help, their recent slide makes it more likely they will be thinking long-term instead of win-now.
Before the break, McCollum was on a tear, scoring 45 points over the final three games, while making nine threes and dishing out eight assists.
He has a blazing first step and can get past opponents off the dribble. He also can play off the ball, a must when he joins Lillard on the floor.
McCollum is shooting a staggering 55.6 percent in catch-and-shoot situations, including 57.1 percent on threes, and 50 percent coming off screens, proving his versatility, per Synergy Sports (subscription required).
There will be some bumps and bruises along the way, but by the postseason expect to see McCollum soaking up most of the reserve guard minutes over Williams.