Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum was my preseason pick to win the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award, and that crusade got off to a good start when McCollum exploded for a career-high 37 points, including 22 in the first quarter, in Portland’s season-opening 112-94 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Dating back to Portland’s first round postseason series against the Memphis Grizzlies last season, McCollum is averaging 20.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game in his last six outings. What’s even more impressive is how efficient he’s been, as McCollum has shot 57% or better in the last four of those six games.
McCollum is primed for a breakout season and this was a great start for a Trail Blazers team that will be falling from the Western Conference playoff picture to the lottery after losing four of their five starters from last season. McCollum and starting point guard Damian Lillard look to usher in a new era in Portland, an entertaining one that will include an abundance of shots.