There was little reason to expect stardom from C.J. McCollum during his first two NBA seasons. After being taken 10th overall out of Lehigh in the 2013 draft, McCollum got into just 38 games with the Trail Blazers during his rookie year and averaged 12.5 minutes per night. In his second season, those numbers increased to 62 games and 15.7 minutes of playing time.
But then Wesley Matthews left in free agency last summer and opened a door for the 6’4″ shooting guard. McCollum responded by moving into the starting lineup, averaging 20.8 points per night, shooting 42% from 3-point range and joining Damian Lillard to form one of the league’s most dynamic young backcourts.
McCollum was a runaway choice as the NBA’s Most Improved Player, easily outdistancing Kemba Walker and Giannis Antetokounmpo in the postseason voting. He cashed in on his success last month, agreeing to a five-year extension with the Blazers worth $106MM.
It’s an award that often leads to financial success. McCullom joins an impressive list of recent winners — Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic, Paul George, Ryan Anderson and Kevin Love — who all signed max or near-max deals sometime after winning the honor.
That brings us to tonight’s question: Who will be named the Most Improved Player for 2016/17? Who has the right mixture of talent and opportunity to follow in the footsteps of McCollum and the other winners?
Will someone step forward to replace the massive void left by Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City? Or by Dwyane Wade in Miami? Will it be someone leading a team on the rise like Utah or Orlando? Or will it be a relatively obscure player on one of the league’s younger teams?
Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the topic. We look forward to what you have to say.