4. C.J. McCollum, Portland
The Trail Blazers’ miracle season this year was mostly headed by Damian Lillard, but C.J. McCollum deserves just as much credit. He stepped up. And his explosion netted him the Most Improved Player award for 2015-16. He’s a bit undersized for the two-guard spot and is really only there because Lillard is running the point.
At 6’4, 200 and mildly athletic, McCollum is best out of the pick-and-roll, where he can utilize short, quick bursts to get to the cup. That ability comes from being a point guard at Lehigh, and McCollum is equal at both scoring and passing when coming off screens. Furthermore, his pull-up jump shot and floater are tough for bigs to guard, and he’s usually given space off screens to prevent being blown by. If McCollum’s feeling it, he can light it up from downtown and shot nearly 42 percent this past year.
For 2016-17, McCollum’s role will see a slight change because of Evan Turner, who provides yet another ball handler for Portland. McCollum won’t need to be so ball dominant and will get more catch-and-shoot opportunities–that’s great for Portland, as McCollums effective-field goal percentage was 62.3 according to NBA.com.
Next: DeMar DeRozan