Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum was my preseason pick for Most Improved Player, and although there are many horses in the MIP race currently vying for that No. 1 spot, I’d have to believe that McCollum is leading the derby as of right now.
McCollum’s points per game average has gone from 6.8 to 19.5, and he, along with backcourt mate Damian Lillard are setting the nets ablaze in Portland, cementing themselves as one of the highest-scoring backcourts in the Association.
McCollum’s shot failed him last night as he went 4-21 from the field in a 115-112 overtime loss to the Dallas Mavericks, but he did hit Dirk Nowitzki with the nasty, putting the legendary power forward in the blender with a lightning-quick crossover that had him going in circles.
Dirk was asked about McCollum’s maneuver after the game, and his response was lighthearted.
“Oh, man, I was praying he was going to miss it,” Nowitzki said, laughing. He scored 28 points in the Mavs’ 115-112 overtime win. “And I turned around and he made it. I told him at halftime it was cold-blooded to go at the old man like that.
“Yeah, it’s on ESPN. Tough.”
Dirk was the cold-blooded one in the win, registering a vintage performance of 28 points, seven rebounds and six assists.