Why CJ McCollum & Damian Lillard Are NBA’s Best Back Court

There are a lot of great back court tandems in NBA. Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo in Oklahoma City, James Harden and Patrick Beverley in Houston, and Stephane Curry and Clay Thompson in Golden State. Despite these all star names, the best back court in the NBA resides in Portland, Or. The combination of Damian Lillard and CJ McCullom are not only the most underrated tandem in the NBA but they are the best.

With Lillard, you have a complete player on par with Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook. For the season, Lillard shot at 44.4% rate from the field, averaged 27 points per game, 5.9 assists and 4.9 rebounds a game, while averaging 35.9 MPG. a team leader. By contrast, Westbrook logged 31.6 PPG, 10.4 assists per game, and 10.7 rebounds per game. Lillard has also had to take on more of a leadership role at a young with the mass exodus of many of Portland’s veteran players of the last five seasons.

With CJ McCollum you have the nuanced number two. Physically assertive on both ends of the court, McCollum is the team’s second leading scorer, with 23 points per game and sports an  excellent 48% shooting percentage, for a six foot three undersized shooting guard. McCollum, as well, is the ultimate teammate. A secondary ball handler though he is, he still posts 3 1/2 assists and rebounds per game. With around three and a half assists and rebounds per game, for a man whom is the secondary ball handler, are more than can be expected.

But those are just stats. Here is CJ McCollum on Lillard and thee value his point guard brings to the Trailblazers night in and night out  –

“Late in the shot clock and at the end of games, he likes to get to that quick step-back three with the ball in his left hand. He stutters his feet, then takes one hard dribble and bounces back quick and shoots it. You know it’s coming, but there’s nothing you can do about it because he’s got unlimited range and a deadly first step. Everyone remembers last season’s big shot at the buzzer against Houston, but that was him all year.

It is also a lost point that Lillard is still only  26 years old, despite being a veteran of nearly 400 games. Offensively, he is Portland’s best option night in and night out. That Lillard is a point guard makes that fact all the more incredible. His 44.4% shooting from the field comes in the face of double teams most nights. He carried the Trail Blazers to the playoffs when just about everyone projected they would be one of the worst teams in the NBA prior to the season for back to back years.

TNT basketball analyst and former NBA great Charles Barkley had this to say about the Portland point guard, “McCollum and Lillard do not like those guards from Golden State,” said Barkley. “They go at they head. Damian Lillard is probably the most underrated player in the NBA. He’s a terrific player, McCollum is a stud, the guards to me is an even matchup.”

With CJ McCollum you have the nuanced number two. Physically assertive on both ends of the court, McCollum is the team’s second leading scorer, with 23 points per game and sports an  excellent 48% shooting percentage, for a six foot three undersized shooting guard. McCollum, as well, is the ultimate teammate. A secondary ball handler though he is, he still posts 3 1/2 assists and rebounds per game. With around three and a half assists and rebounds per game, for a man whom is the secondary ball handler, are more than can be expected.

I guess in the end their abilities only leave you with questions and hopes. How many years will they play together? What are the odds of winning when Jusuf Nurkic comes back? Portland’s depth is doubtful and experience on the roster is little. Does Lillard have it in him to stay in Portland? How badly does he want a shot at the title? With McCollum, will he be content to be the number two guy or does he have the willingness to be three if Portland makes a big move?

 

 

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