Sunday, April 28, 2013

Can C.J. McCollum be another Damian Lillard?

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard had a fantastic rookie season. The 6-3 Weber State product had questions about whether he could play against elite level competition, but he put those to rest by having the best season of the 2012 draftees and more than likely winning the NBA rookie of the year.

Another small school guard, Lehigh's C.J. McCollum will face some of the same questions as he gets ready for the 2013 NBA Draft. Can he play point guard after being a dynamic scorer in college. Can he produce consistently against players on a higher level. More importantly, will he be fully recovered from a broken foot that sidelined him for most of his senior season. McCollum says he's ready to go and that he's 100 percent.

In my opinion he can play against elite level competition. Look what he did to Duke in the 2012 NCAA tournament. My question is, can he become another Damian Lillard?

Many thought that Lillard wouldn't be able to make the transition to the NBA game. He seemingly looked for his shot first and couldn't make his teammates better. Furthermore he played in the Big Sky conference. Not a conference known for churning out first round NBA draft picks. He wasn't a true point abut he didn't have the size for a shooting guard.

When you look at McCollum's size he almost mirrors Lillard. Lillard is listed at 6-3, 190 pounds. McCollum is listed at 6-3 and 200 pounds. He isn't known to be a "facilitator"  and scouts say he has work to do to become a true point guard. He played in the Patriot League and he was also hurt for most of his senior year.

I don't think you try to remake his game. You look at what Lillard has done as a pro and ask yourself can McCollum become the same type of player. I do think McCollum can be a solid pro if put in the right situation. Lillard came into Portland not to be a savior, but as a functional part of a team. The Blazers already had LaMarcus Aldridge so they had someone to build around.

For a team looking for a guard to plug and play right away, McCollum could be your man. Especially if that team isn't a perennial cellar dweller. He could fit in best with a team like Dallas, Chicago or the Los Angeles Clippers. But if a team wants him to be the man and not a contributor it might not work out too well.

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