McCollum Wins Most Improved Player Award After Stellar Season
Portland Trail Blazers’ gaurd C.J. McCollum will be taking home some hardware after his breakout season. The third year guard out of Lehigh made dramatic improvements in his game this season and will be named the Kia NBA Most Improved Player of the year.
The Blazers’ guard was able to capture 101 first place votes, out of the 130 voters from respected sportscasters and broadcasters throughout the NBA. Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker and Milwaukee Bucks player Giannis Antetokounmpo finished second and third in the voting.
McCollum now joins Zach Randolph (2004) and Kevin Duckworth (1988) as the only players in franchise history to win the award. After losing four starters from last season, McCollum was given the opportunity to shine in a prime role.
McCollum’s Improvement By The Numbers
After last season, only averaging 6.8 points per game, it was hard to see what kind of player McCollum could blossom to be. That all changed when then starting shooting guard, Wesley Matthews, went down with an injury last season. This gave McCollum the ability to let loose during the playoffs against the Memphis Grizzlies. In game 5, he torched the Grizzlies for 33 points while shooting 7-11 from the three point line.
That single playoff game gave the Blazers’ front office confidence in moving forward with the young guard. After Matthews left the team in the offseason, general manager Neil Olshey did not seek another guard to fill the starting role. The shooting guard position was McCollum’s for the taking.
People may believe that his success was just due to the fact that he more than doubled his minutes per game, but McCollum is shooting better than he ever has since he joined the association.
Every single shooting percentage has increased this season. Last season, he was shooting a mere 69 percent from the free throw line, a poor percentage for a guard. This season, after more than doubling his attempts, McCollum has shown to be much better from the stripe, shooting just under 83 percent this season.
His ability to shoot from beyond the arc improved by two percentage points, as well. Now having his average above 40 percent, even while shooting almost six threes a game this season.
The biggest improvement in McCollum’s game this season was his shot selection. This season, C.J. has taken shots more frequently than ever. As the second man in one of the most dynamic backcourts in the league, he has taken almost 18 shots per game, and converted on almost 45 percent of his attempts.
The Blazers were supposed to be a struggling mess this season, with many experts picking them to be one of the worst teams in the entire league. But, the Blazers have stayed afloat with players like C.J. stepping up in expanded roles and thriving. Without McCollum’s huge improvement, there is a good chance the Blazers would not be playing in the playoffs right now.
Overall, McCollum has shown that he could improve on this year’s outing. It looks like he could be a borderline all-star type player in the years to come. With all-star point guard Damain Lillard in the backcourt as well, the Blazers have one of the most exciting young backcourts in the league.
Many players were able to make huge strides and improve their game, but McCollum is currently standing above them all after taking home the Most Improved Player of the year.
(McCollum Wins Most Improved Player Award)