CJ McCollum to Return from Foot Injury for Blazers vs. Pelicans on Tuesday

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2021

Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum runs to the other end of the court after scoring against the Sacramento Kings during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021. The Trail Blazers won 125-99. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Damian Lillard is reportedly getting his running mate back this week. 

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum will return to the lineup for Tuesday's contest against the New Orleans Pelicans. McCollum's last game was Jan. 16 against the Atlanta Hawks.

CJ McCollum @CJMcCollum

🙏🏽 see you soon brotha https://t.co/gWFQPDpRD0

CJ McCollum @CJMcCollum

Hallelujah https://t.co/TqCFwcjtjm

The Lehigh product was sidelined for two months with a fractured foot.

The backcourt tandem of Lillard and McCollum was the primary reason the Trail Blazers were expected to contend in the Western Conference this season, but the latter has played just 13 games. 

Portland is still in playoff position at 22-16 with Lillard taking on more responsibilities and players such as Gary Trent Jr. and Anfernee Simons helping fill in, but it is far more dangerous with McCollum on the floor as well.

McCollum averaged 26.7 points, 5.0 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game in those 13 contests, eight of which were wins. He is also shooting 44.1 percent from three-point range, underscoring his ability to knock down open shots when opponents collapse on Lillard throughout the game in an effort to make others beat them.

Nobody on Portland's roster is better equipped to do so than McCollum, which should help the team make up ground in the West down the stretch.

While the Trail Blazers may not be considered on the same level as the Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz, L.A. Clippers or even Phoenix Suns when it comes to championship prospects, they are not far removed from their run to the 2019 Western Conference Finals.

They are also just 3.5 games back of the Suns for the No. 2 seed and could charge up the standings with Lillard and McCollum healthy and together. As long the guards are out there, Portland remains a threat to any team.