SB Nation is posting scouting reports of each prospect in the 2013 NBA Draft. Learn more about Lehigh point guard C.J. McCollum.
NAME: C.J. McCollum.
AGE ON DRAFT DAY: 21 years, nine months.
POSITION: Combo guard.
MEASUREMENTS: 6'3, 197 pounds, 6'6.25 wingspan, 8'0.5 standing reach.
|2012 - CJ McCollum
RELEVANT "ADVANCED" STATS: 51.6 percent from the three-point line this season. Even in a small sample size, that's unreasonable.
SB NATION BIG BOARD POSITION: No. 19.
NBA CEILING: Mo Williams
NBA FLOOR: Jannero Pargo
JONATHAN TJARKS' ANALYSIS
C.J. McCollum burst onto the scene in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, leading Lehigh to an improbable No. 15-over-No. 2 upset of Duke in the first round. He was the best player on the floor, dominating future lottery pick Austin Rivers to the tune of 30 points, six assists and six rebounds in a 75-70 victory.
He came back even stronger as a senior, averaging 24 points, five rebounds and three assists on 50 percent shooting from the field, 52 percent from three-point range and 85 percent from the free-throw line. However, those astronomical numbers came in only 12 games against mostly substandard competition, as a broken foot caused him to miss the last two months of the season.
At 6'3 and 200 pounds with a 6'6 wingspan, McCollum has only average size and speed for a combo guard. Like many shoot-first college guards without the ability to defend NBA shooting guards, he will need to become a more pass-first player to start at the next level.
McCollum alternated ball-handling duties with Mackey McKnight at Lehigh, who ran point for the last three seasons. While that division of labor made sense for their team, it makes evaluating him as a passer and decision-maker tricky. He has much less experience running a team than either Damian Lillard or Stephen Curry, two other low-major guards who he's been compared to due to his elite shooting ability.
The question will be whether a team believes in McCollum enough to build their offense around him, because he has a hard time impacting the game without the ball in his hands.
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McCollum is the most complete scorer in the draft. He's a deadly shooter with deep range: as a senior, before injuring his left foot, he was shooting 51.6 percent from three-point range on 5.3 attempts a game. With the ball in his hands, McCollum can break down defenders and get to the basket or pull up in a defender's face. His step-back jumper is deadly and he's extremely comfortable shooting around high ball screens. He understands the pace of the game and he's explosive enough to quickly change that pace with the ball in hands.
Off the ball, McCollum is money. He's patient when coming off screens and understands the spacing and how to utilize screens to evade defenders to get his shot off.
You know that player from the small school that hardly anyone talks about before the draft, that suddenly shoots up the mocks and ends up being one of the top picks? Well, McCollum could be that guy this year. Stifled by a season-ending left foot injury last January, McCollum kind of dropped off the radar for a while. However, he is back practicing at full speed and appears ready to pick up where he left off as one of the top scorers this year in college basketball. As a senior, McCollum has proven that he can consistently be a potent scorer, and has even improved his points-per-game average every year (19.1, 21.8, 21.9, 23.9). McCollum is very quick and loves attacking the basket. He also has a solid jump-shot and loves to get steals and score in transition. His biggest drawback is of course his size, but if the Suns are looking for some lightning in a bottle in the form of an elite scorer, CJ McCollum may be the perfect fit.
All in all, I think McCollum's a very good prospect, though perhaps not as good as Lillard. He will immediately be able to score in the pick and roll and he seems capable of playing with other ball-handlers.
To become a great prospect, he needs to improve his passing reads. Lillard is not a heavy-assist passer, but he at least understands all his reads, making him a more dangerous threat. As of now, I worry teams will pressure McCollum and he will struggle to manage those traps.
For more coverage, visit SB Nation's NBA Draft 2013 section.