NBA Film Room: CJ McCollum Brought Ideal Impact To Pelicans

CJ McCollum, New Orleans Pelicans, NBA Film Room
NBA Analysis Network

The struggling early season New Orleans Pelicans are unrecognizable from the team that advanced to the first round of the playoffs this week. Players from the bottom to the top of the roster have made incredible strides to make that happen. It’s the midseason addition of NBA veteran CJ McCollum, though, who’s had the biggest impact.

McCollum has scored 24.3 points per game and dished 5.8 assists per game for New Orleans in 26 games. The veteran guard has kept the team afloat with a .500 record since he joined, despite the frequent absences of co-star Brandon Ingram (and the constant absence of superstar Zion Williamson).

Many would stake the claim that Ingram is the primary option for New Orleans – at least in the absence of Zion Williamson. While CJ McCollum may be the secondary piece for the Pelicans in their current form, his value to the team is irreplaceable.

When it comes to McCollum, the scoring is what immediately jumps out.

LATEST NBA NEWS: McCollum, Ingram Forming Intriguing Star Duo For Pelicans

After years of the rim-scoring reluctance of guard Lonzo Ball, the New Orleans Pelicans at long last have a guard who’s adept at making his way to the cup.

Lacking explosive burst, McCollum uses methodical stops and starts, leveraging his pull-up threat to maneuver by defenders and get a chance to use his elite touch around the rim. His talent for generating points in a one-on-one dance was of the utmost importance in New Orleans’ two single-game elimination wins in the Play-In.

CJ McCollum is also one of the NBA’s premier mid-range killers. McCollum shot 49.6% on shots between 10 feet and the three-point arc and shot 38.7% from deep. McCollum’s combined eFG% from these ranges of 53.83% would be above names like Chris Paul, Joel Embiid, and Devin Booker on the overall eFG% leaderboards.

These aren’t all clean looks, either. CJ takes and makes these off of dribble combinations, with contact, on the move, over contests. It doesn’t matter – he is elite from midrange.

CJ’s elite scoring opens up his passing, which has been another of the key areas in which he’s contributed so far in New Orleans.

LATEST NBA NEWS: McCollum, Ingram Forming Intriguing Star Duo For Pelicans

CJ sees doubles on screens frequently – especially in games where he’s been cooking scoring-wise. These doubles open up easy assists for a talented playmaker like McCollum:

But even when the assists aren’t quite as easy, CJ McCollum can find the passing angle.

CJ McCollum is a professional scorer – and he’s able to open so many things for New Orleans’ offense as a result. Facing individual coverage, McCollum will find a midrange look he can drain or weave his way to the basket – when he sees a double he can create looks for teammates. Not to mention – a double on McCollum leaves Brandon Ingram or Jonas Valanciunas, both elite offensive talents, with a 4-on-3 advantage.

LATEST NBA NEWS: McCollum, Ingram Forming Intriguing Star Duo For Pelicans

The New Orleans Pelicans have been plagued by poor guard play since the departure of Jrue Holiday. Lonzo Ball, Eric Bledsoe, and rookie Kira Lewis Jr. were simply not cutting it, only managing efficient offense because of the absurdity that is Zion Williamson.

With McCollum able to manufacture offense of his own, the Pelicans have a versatile attack – with Zion still yet to join.

CJ McCollum provided exactly what the Pelicans needed when they made the decision to trade for him mid-season. When Zion Williamson comes back, he, CJ, and Brandon Ingram will be an offensive force to put the league on notice.

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