I know what you're all thinking: why couldn't we have lucked out and gotten Damian Lillard in last year's draft?! Well, we may have a chance at a very similar player in the 2013 draft. His name?
6'3" / 190 lbs / 6'6" wingspan
24.4 PPG / 5.0 RPG / 3.2 APG
51% FG / 79% FT / 53% 3PT on 5.2 attempts per game
McCollum is a pure, talented scorer. During the 09-10 season, he led all freshman in scoring with 19.1 PPG. Last season, he averaged 25.8 points per 40 minutes, which ranked 6th among all NCAA prospects. This season he currently ranks 3rd among all NCAA prospects in scoring with 24.4 PPG. Although, he was actually leading the nation for most of the season, and there's a good chance he could gain the top position again when all is said and done.
So, how does McCollum get his points? First of all--driving to the rim. Derek Bodner writes:
But, not only does McCollum get to the rim at will, he finishes there at a very respectable 50.5% of the time due to finesse, body control, and a good touch.
Secondly, when a player is aggressive and has the tools to get to the rim like McCollum, it translates to getting to the FT line. Last season he averaged 8.2 free throws attempted per 40 minutes pace adjusted (where he averaged 81%), which ranked 6th among DX's top-100 prospects.
But, as good as his driving game is, McCollum has proven this season to be just as good of a 3-point shooter. As previously stated, he is averaging 53% from 3 on a gaudy 5.2 attempts per game, which has resulted in him ranking 3rd among all Division 1 prospects in 3-pointers made.
Lastly, he has improved in what many players struggle to develop: a mid range game. Last season, he converted on 38.2% of his mid range attempts, according to Synergy Sports Technology. It may be difficult to understand how good that is out of context, but DX seems to think it is a respectable percentage.
But, as phenomenal of a scorer as he is, of course, one has to talk about the play making ability of a PG prospect. His 3.2 assists per game is very average, but this could have something to do with the lack of talent around him at such a small school. However, his vision in the pick and roll seems to be quite good. DX writes:
My prediction is that although he'll never be the best distributor, but due to his substantial ability to get to the rim, combined with his killer outside shot, and his seemingly good vision in the pick and roll, he will be a very dangerous PG in pick and roll sets--something I also said about Lillard--and something I desperately want to pair with Derrick Favors.Most intriguing has been his court vision coming off pick and rolls, particularly useful considering his ability to generate his own offense in those sets and the likelihood he will be placed in that situation at the next level.
From DraftExpress.com http://www.draftexpress.com#ixzz2EWxIr89C
While McCollum is not the best lock down defender, he does have some major bright spots to make up for it. The last part of defense is, and always will be, getting the defensive rebound, and McCollum averaged 7.6 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted last season, which ranked #1 among DX's database of guards. And when you combine that with his 3.1 steals per 40 minutes pace adjusted last season, which ranked #1 amongst all college prospects, you have a guard that can give you a defensive spark.
McCollum does not appear to be the most explosive athlete (probably average in this category), but is very agile and quick. We'll have to wait till the combine to get any real measurements on his athleticism, but until then, you can use your own eyes to judge.
McCollum has vastly improved in many areas of his game over the course of his college career, and should be something he will continue to do at the next level.
A few improvements between his sophomore and junior years:
-2 PT% from 43% to 50%
-true shooting % from 52% to 57%
-mid range shooting from 27.3% to 38.2%
-at the rim from 35.6% to 50.5%
And from his junior to senior year, we have seen his 3PT% go from 34% to 53%.
Put on 30 lbs between his freshman and junior years.
Level of Competition:
If you've read all this, the biggest thing you're wondering is most likely whether he's actually that good, or if it's simply because of playing lesser competition. Well, the times McCollum has faced big schools he's done quite, quite well, which is obviously a great comfort. Remember how #2 seed Duke was upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year? That was against C.J. McCollum--a game in which he recorded 30 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists. Then, to start of his senior year, he dropped 36 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists against a talented Baylor team which, just a few weeks later, became the first team to beat Kentucky at home under John Calapari.
C.J. McCollum is a fantastic scorer, whom I think will be a good enough play maker, and will be deadly in the pick and roll; exactly what Favors needs. He is a complete scorer, one that can knock it down from deep, drive the lane, get to the FT line, and has an improving mid range game. These are all things the Jazz need right now, at the position they need it most. Being a senior, he is someone that could contribute immediately, but is also not so old that he has reached his peek (is barely older than Favors), and has shown the ability to improve over time, giving me faith he will reach his relative potential.
Chad Ford has him ranked #14 on his Big Board.
DX currently has him going #12, and is the first PG off the board.
As for comparisons, Stephen Curry is probably the most common I've read. Though, Lillard's name has also popped up.
I really like the kid. I think his assists will improve because he will have other talent players on his team. I just hope he is available when the Jazz pick. My only concern with CJ is he more of an undersize SG than a PG. I have to see more of him to see if he has the ability to be a PG. I still would consider him with one of our picks.
I'll rep after I spread some first.
Very good write-up Spycam! Will also rep when able.
A few additional points, if I may. (I agree with cowhide, btw)
- I'll be patient and watch the gaudy 3pt%. The 51% is on this year's stats, 10 games in, and against no ranked opponents thus far. The two years prior, on the same number of shot attempts per game, his %'s were 31.5% and 34.1%. I think we need a larger sample size this year before making the determination he's an elite perimeter shooter.
- Overall FG% is somewhat the same, he's a hair over 50% this year, but failed to reach 45% in each of the past two seasons.
- He has not recorded more than 4 assists in a game this year and averages roughly a 1:1 A/T ratio.
- Assists; What concerns me with the 'lack of being surrounded by talent' excuse is shown by fellow guard McKnight. Whereas CJ has yet to surpass the 4 assists in a game mark, McKnight has 5 or more in 8 of the last 10 games. So is this maybe because McKnight can't shoot so he can pass it off to CJ? Nope. McKnight is shooting 40% from 3 this year. Also, McKnight's assists are being targeted at a rate of nearly 60% to the post.
---- Having said all that, I am definitely not down on CJ at all. I think he's got a good case to be end of lottery. I do think he's a combo guard, at best, but he doesn't scare me like some others (I was never high on, at all, on Jimmer, was totally disgusted with the thought of Tony Wroten, etc).
I think he's a very intriguing prospect and I can't say I have any real concerns that weren't discussed above, but I would have trouble placing him in the draft in a definitive spot. If it were me, I'd have him somewhere from 14 - 24.
But not as good as his previous number1, imo.
McCollum's PG ability and judging whether his crazy 3PT% is a fluke, or the real deal, are definitely the biggest things to be watching the rest of the season. As for his outside shot, yes, it's early in the year, but the fact that he's taking so many 3's helps the case that it's no fluke; it's as big of a sample size as anyone in the country, thus far. But yeah, we'll just have to wait and see if he keeps it up. If he can stay above 40% on 5 attempts the rest of the season, I'll be convinced.
As for the post above, my only concern with the sample size is that it's the same amt of shot attempts as his previous two years (per game) but is 15%+ higher so far, very early into the year..
Not a negative, just something to watch.
It's far from our biggest need but what are people's thoughts on Alex Len from Maryland? I was just reading up on the 7 footer and he sounds damn good.