The annual NBA All-Star Weekend is cancelled this year, which means we won’t get to see all the much-hyped individual and team competitions. Unfortunately, it’s one of the many casualties under the league’s strict plan against the COVID-19 pandemic.
To continue rewarding the worthy players, however, and perhaps to avoid unnecessarily ending career streaks regarding selections, the league decided to still name an All-Star line-up for each conference. That’s good news for the players that are bound to enter All-Star level status or at least play like one in the current campaign.
The Portland Trail Blazers’ number two man, CJ McCollum, is among those deservingly in the conversation over the past couple of years. While he’s still widely known as Damian Lillard’s right hand guy and backcourt mate, he is on a mean streak this season to prove that he’s much more than that.
After 11 games, McCollum is averaging team-highs of 28 points and five threes per game, to go along 5.4 assists and 1.4 steals. A handful of those also featured him as the Blazers’ most reliable option – yes, over Lillard.
Let’s quickly list CJ’s top performances so far:
- December 27th against the Houston Rockets, he duelled with James Harden and scored 44 points while dishing out eight assists and swishing nine three-pointers. Portland wins in an overtime thriller, 128-126.
- January 9th against the Sacramento Kings, he scored 37 points as Lillard struggled. Portland won in a 26-point blowout.
- January 12th against the Toronto Raptors, he led a comeback and tallied 30 points. Portland won, 112-111, after rallying from a 17-point deficit that was still at 11 with under eight minutes remaining.
- January 14th against the Sacramento Kings, he co-led another comeback and double-doubled for 28 points and 10 assists, including six threes. Portland won, 132-126, after being down by as much as 20.
Eariler this week, McCollum also delivered a possibly future classic interview. It was not his usual vibe, but it’s certainly a welcomed surprise.
“I’m a killer. Figure out ways to eat. That’s what best describes me. Sharks just go hunt. Don’t worry about things. Never worry about how they get next meal. Don’t worry about anything, that’s how I live my life.”CJ McCollum
Don’t think we’re overlooking Dame or that CJ is trying to one-up his co-star just for the sake of it. Lillard may be even opening the gates so his longtime scoring partner can finally lock that All-Star nod in. This is the first time in six seasons together that McCollum is taking more shots on an extended stretch (18.9 to 21 FGA) – keep in mind that it’s now through an 11-game span.
The Blazers are winners of four in a row and currently 7-4, not exactly impressive but decent enough to add as a receipt for McCollum’s drive for an All-Star selection. He’ll be more than ready to continue showing off his seemingly new level of scoring repertoire.
Portland will be back in action tomorrow at home against the Indiana Pacers, 11 AM, Manila time.