Rookie Rankings, Week 10: McCollum Could Give Bad Blazers Bench a Boost

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NeilOlsheyLast season, the Portland Trail Blazers had one of the worst benches in the NBA.

Portland’s reserves were last in minutes (13.3), points (18.5), rebounds (10.5), offensive efficiency (21.1) and defenseive efficiency (minus 17.7). It was a big reason they had three players in the top nine in minutes per game, including rookie Damian Lillard, who led the entire NBA in minutes played. It also was a big reason why those players burned out and Portland lost its last 11 games to finish 33-49.

So in the offseason, GM Neil Olshey went out and did something about it. He traded for Robin Lopez to allow LaMarcus Aldridge to remain at power forward and second-year center Meyers Leonard to continue to come off the bench. They signed Dorell Wright as a backup to small forward Nicolas Batum. They acquired Thomas Robinson to give Aldridge a blow at the 4 spot.

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Kotoch: 2013 NBA Mock Draft 1.0.1

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Things have changed since we published Mock 1.0 on April 1. The NCAA field is down to four teams, and a couple of the players in our Top 30 have decided to return to school or wait another year in Europe (Darko Saric).

Hence, Mock 1.0.1.

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Our night with John Adams, the NCAA’s head of officials

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It’s a dark, snowy Tuesday night in Hamden, Connecticut, the kind that last all basketball NCAA director of officials and referees season in the Northeast. John W. Adams is sitting by himself in the last row at the TD Bank SportsCenter, preparing to take in yet another game in the long stretch of games that make up his life each winter.

Over the next five months, the NCAA’s head of men’s basketball officials will traverse the country, going from city to city, small gym to huge arena, to evaluate as many of our nation’s college basketball officials as he can. His recommendations will determine which referees make it to the NCAA Tournament, which ones advance, and ultimately, who will toss the ball into the air at the Final Four.

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Scouting Take: C.J. McCollum of Lehigh

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While the nation learned of the name C.J. McCollum last night thanks to a 30-point performance in leading the 15th-seeded Lehigh Mountain Hawks in a major upset over Duke, those in the Patriot League are familiar with the silky smooth lead guard.

Living in the Northeast, I’ve had the opportunity to see McCollum several times this year, and his ability to combine his supreme athleticism within a very structured and disciplined system is a major plus in his ledger.

McCollum possesses a rare combination of scoring ability and length at the guard position that allows him to get his shot whenever he needs to, but what I love most about him is his poise and confidence to be a leader in a very physical conference. He has a physical nature to his game, but also has the athleticism and moxie to get into space and create scoring options for himself.

It’s easy to question a player who plays in a small conference, but McCollum can play at a very high pace while playing within his team’s slower style of system. That’s a discipline that displays the ability to take the game over offensively, while keeping his teammates active and involved. Against Duke he was the best guard on the floor in a game that featured a supreme talent, namely Austin Rivers, but it was his ability to raise the level of his teammates’ play that allowed each to believe they could win. They were absolutely the better team yesterday and that type of effort comes from on floor leadership.

Just a junior, McCollum can benefit from another year of development, proving he can get a little stronger, but also that they can take their program a bigger step forward seeing that they have a handful of juniors returning. McCollum would be wise to keep the obvious bond together and wreak havoc on the Patriot League once again.

Defensively, it’s hard not to appreciate his ability to rebound and get in the passing lanes. In my estimation he defend the ball at both the one and two spots and is long enough to cover most NBA shooting guards.

He really is a very complete player at this stage, the only knock I can see is that he has episodes when he settles for his jump shot when he should be taking the ball to the basket and drawing contact like he did yesterday, and against Bucknell in the Patriot championship game. That said, it’s hard to pick on his offensive game considering he’s 4th in the nation in scoring, shooting 45% from the field and 80% from the stripe.

Strengths:

- Complete scorer at the guard position with scorer’s mentality.

- Can score from multitude of spots on the floor.

- Solid two-way player.

- Consummate teammate.

Weaknesses:

- Defined position. Is he a lead guard or bench scorer?

- Not a supreme athlete.

- Three point shot selection.

Tommy Dee is the founder of TheKnicksBlog, editor of CHARGED Magazine and is a regional scout for Marty Blake and Associates. Follow him on Twitter.