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CJ McCollum. Is he this year's Damian Lillard?

I LOVE him but I feel that he'll bust if someone tries to force him to play point. He's unselfish, smart (really high BB-IQ), has great handles, has a great feel for the game, understands mismatches and has solid court vision...He's definitely smart and unselfish enough to hit open shooters but I just don't think he has that natural feel for the game (as a PG) that Nash has, he doesn't have elite court vision and I don't think he'll ever be a good enough passer to make highlight dimes like Nash/Rondo/Paul/Dragic and he doesn't have the athleticism to compensate. He can hit open guys and wide open guys but doesn't have more advanced PG skills and I don't think he can make really difficult passes, in this way he reminds me of Sebastian Telfair. He's more a second/third string PG (i.e. Barbosa). He's not the classic idea of a combo guard because he plays below the rim, I'll come back to this idea later. On the PnR he can shoot over the screen or get to the paint but he doesn't seem to know when/where to pass. He had a lot of turnovers but he was also asked to do a lot. He should benefit from better teammates, better spacing and faster pace that we get in the NBA.

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One of the knocks on him is that he DEFINITELY doesn't have that electric Westbrook/Rose/Lillard athleticism; he doesn't even have great athleticism. He's a below-the-rim player; his athleticism is more similar to Michael Carter-Williams (not as tall or long though). He's fast but not really fast and he's doesn't have the strength (or length) to play in the paint like Westbrook does. Quicker/faster/stronger/taller/longer players will give him trouble in the NBA. He'll be fine on the perimeter with his ball handling, craftiness and shooting but inside it'll be tough for anything that isn't an open layup.

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Now what he DOES do well is that he's smart, unselfish, has a great feel for the game, solid court vision, incredible rebounder for his position (7.9/8.9 REBs in SO/JR years), understands mismatches, high character, hard worker, has okay to good athleticism, has a smooth handle... but the reason he's being talked about top 10 is because this guy can SHOOT! Set, moving, pullup, off the dribble, spot-up, off screens, threes... absolutely a dead-eye shooter (a la JJ Reddick, Ray Allen, Curry-ish). It also seems like he's the only guy in this class that has a really good handle (great crossover and brilliant hesitation) and can create his own shot (ISO). He also knows when he has to take big shots. McCollum is also a beast in transition (20.6% of his total offense). He's not a great finisher but he hustles and outruns the defense, pushes the ball up court, gets easy layups, gets wide-open shots (one of those guys that makes those shots everytime), pulls up when appropriate...he absolutely shreds defenses himself and with his passing when they aren't set. He plays crafty, good at getting fouls, knows when players aren't watching him, good first step (but not great) and like I said earlier he can hit the open man and knows when to feed mismatches (bigs on littles inside or littles on bigs outside). He's not great athletically so quicker, faster players can get around him and tall/strong players can get their shot over him/in his face. He has a lot to learn on defense but I think he will improve in time.

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Offensively and defensively he's a fantastic off-ball player. He does the little things: chases rebounds, chases his shots when he thinks they're bad, putbacks, box-out (pretty good for a wing), understands the offense, knows to go to set up plays, knows where everyone else needs be also, knows when to cut to the basket, always ready to receive passes, in the 7SOL Era our offense needed players to be able to "pass or shoot" (understand the offense and where everyone is + anticipate what's going to happen and what you need to do then be able to "pass or shoot" before you even get the ball), McCollum can do that. Defensively he's knows when to get in passing lanes, great anticipation and timing, understands positioning and rotations, takes advantage when players don't have eyes on him, fast hands, steals bad passes and steals/blocks shots from bigs that aren't watching him.

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Like I was saying earlier he's not a PG and he's not a typical combo guard because he's an off-guard (not ball-dominate), plays below the rim (finesse) and doesn't have the speed/agility/strength to penetrate every play. He's a tremendous shooter but he's not the all-around scorer that other great combo guards are, especially ones that go top 10. I really feel that he's a unique player and that he needs to be used correctly/put in the right system like Dudley and Tyreke Evans. If you used them wrong they'd be out of the league. I actually think a really good player comparison is CJ to Jared Dudley, think about it. Knockdown shooter, lives off IQ, great rebounder for position, fantastic off-ball defense/offense, finesse (below-the-rim) player, want more athleticism (CJ is much MUCH better than Dudley though, lol), unselfish, good passer, hustle... obviously McCollum is better though, he's being talked about top 10. McCollum gets more steals, is a better rebounder for his position, his smooth handle gets used more as a guard, Dudley is our best shooter but McCollum is a dead-eye, "whatever you do don't leave him open" shooter and McCollum's good athleticism just completely changes the game from Dudley's horrible athleticism. The athleticism takes CJ to another level also Dudley can get 10-15 quietly maybe even 20 but McCollum is one of those guys that will just keep shooting and shooting (and make all of them) if you get him good looks (shooting wise) like Reddick, Allen, Curry, Klay. He's really good not elite like those guys but that's still really impressive for any NBA team. Plus, unlike Dudley he can take over the game in the 4th quarter, create his own shot, and take the final shot (Frye>Dudley's clutch gene).

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I just really think his talent would be wasted as a PG. The defense focusing in on him would weaken his already limited PG skills and take advantage of his high turnover rate plus players WILL be able to stop him from shooting if they really try so why expose his best ability when he could just play shooting guard? CJ is a brilliant off-ball player, he can get open if he's not holding the ball the whole time and if you keep feeding him shot after shot he'll make them, so why not do that instead? He'd benefit more from Steve Nash/Trey Burke/Dragic/Michael Carter-Williams than Ray Allen/McLemore/Oladipo/Shabazz.



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