Today, Trail Blazers shooting guard C.J. McCollum won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award, according to the league. McCollum showed lots of development in his game by taking it to the next level as being looked as a top five shooting guard in the league. He was ranked fourth out of all shooting guards this season by being inside the top five in points per game behind James Harden, Demar DeRozan, and Klay Thompson.
In fact, this is so far McCollum’s greatest season in his NBA career, but expect many more similar type of seasons with a chance to expand his game that will result in his stats to explode like his fellow teammate Damian Lillard. The Lehigh product set career highs in field goal percentage (44.8), 3-point field goal percentage (41.7), assists (4.3), rebounds (3.2) and lastly, points per game (20.8). Interestingly, he is the third Portland player to have won the award, joining Kevin Duckworth (1987-1988) and Zach Randolph (2003-2004).
In addition, the 24-year-old just completed his third season, where he was asked to play in a bigger role than the previous two seasons. He was selected with the 10th overall pick of the 2013 draft and now the shooting guard received 101 first-place votes and 559 points in balloting among sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the U.S. and Canada to win the award. He defeated top competitors to win this award. Those players that he out played were Kemba Walker (second place, 166 points) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (third place, 99 points).
Finally, if it was not for Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum stepping up after losing four key starters last summer, they would have missed the playoffs, but the way they performed kind of showed that they did not need those four departed players. They finished the regular season with a 44-38 record that placed them fifth in the Western Conference, which they made the playoffs.
Note: The Trail Blazers have the option to extend him as he is eligible to sign a rookie scale extension. I think they will get something done.