JB really made me proud a few days ago. I guess it’s become kind of a ritual for us now. I know laser tag in an arena is fun and all but we needed real world experience. We decided the best place to hone our skills was to play at our local mall… at high noon. Of course we dress up in our best urban camouflage, for me it’s a simple business suit, that way I can stealthily weave in between what I’ve come to call the ‘zombie horde’. I never know what to expect from JB. He got me a few times with his police uniform but it hasn’t worked well recently so he adjusts. On this day he wore his most villainous of camouflage, the stripper schoolgirl, we have the mall security footage to prove it. But that’s neither here nor there, we were celebrating a match well played at the Candy World when two kids started rap battling in between the Pop Rocks and the Laffy Taffy. I thought they both played the role better than Jamie Kennedy, they’re accents were especially spot on. The hilarity of the situation wasn’t lost on anyone except of course, the two kids.
They didn’t really appreciate JB and I walking up and laughing uncontrollably but then the unthinkable. One of them turned towards us, with his chest puffed out, mean mugging as bad as he could, and challenged us with his rhymes. What ensued was possibly the greatest rap, well, the greatest crimp of all time. Not quite as cheerful as our British mates though. The moment is a blur now mostly but I remember a few little things, “On the night of the day on which this cruel deed was done”, I remember their faces clearly. They had these empty stares as we rhymed in unison, “the hurrying hoof-beats of that steed”. By the time we finished there was nothing they could do. No amount of your momma jokes would be enough. I felt so proud that JB and I still had it, we we’re in a pinch and needed to step up. When it came time to see if we could still blow the mind of a couple of teens by reciting a few famous poems, we responded. I thought I’d help out this week by offering up a few players who when given the opportunity should step up and deliver more than a few good lines.
C.J. McCollum – PG/SG – Por – A meager 2 star recruit out of highschool, C.J. turned down powerhouse Boise State and Wisconson-Milwuakee to play at Lehigh University where in 2012 he led the Mountain Hawks to their first NCAA tourny win. McCollums 30 points in that one combined with a junior season slash line of 21.9/6.5/3.5 along with 2.5 Steals and 1.7 3s per game had him on every NBA scouts radar. Surprisingly he returned for his senior year. Through 12 games his numbers had gotten even better. 23.9 points, 2.8 3s, and now shooting a robust 49.5% from the field. But his season was cut short when he broke a bone in his left foot. A now healthy McCollum falls to 10th in the draft to Portland, where the inevitable comparisons to Damian Lillard become increasingly louder. In Summer league play McCollum, albeit with a poor FG%, posts a line of 21/4/3.5 in 35 min, and begins to enter the Rookie of the Year conversation. Early in training camp McCollum breaks a bone in the same left foot that cost him the second half of his senior campaign. Two and a half months later he’s ready to play again. He plays 2 games in the D-League, a combined 40 minutes, he posts 36 points, 7 boards, 7 assists, 3 steals, and 1 for 9 from downtown. Portland quickly realizes C.J. will help the big club so he gets a call up. Through 3 games, 14 min per, he hasn’t done much worth mentioning as he gets his feet wet. What will it take for him to get a 30 minute role? Less than you may think. I think it could very well happen if any one of Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicholas Batum, or Mo Williams were to get injured. Portland is well known to be a very shallow team and they drafted a 4-year starter to help now, not later. If McCollum finds his way into a 30-minute role what can we expect? He missed a lot of practice time so that may have stunted his development a bit. Conservatively speaking I think he could perform to the tune of .420/.820/1.7/16.0/3.0/3.0/1.2/0.3/2.0. There is a ton of upside for more though and next year he is going to be near the very top of my short list of sleepers.
Cody Zeller – PF/C – Cha – The youngest of the Zellers has always been pegged to be a lottery pick. Not a superior athlete or tremendous scorer, yet, it’s his ‘basketball IQ’ that most commonly receives the highest marks. Now that we’ve seen it a little at the highest level it becomes apparent why he was drafted 4th overall. First though his college stats don’t say much more than an average NBA talent, 16/8/1/1/1 but the added benefit of 2 good percents for a 7-footer. It’s worth noting he had a teammate who was pretty good at accumulating stats. He was drafted 2nd overall. In summer league play Cody did about the same thing he did in college, not a surprise considering the level of competition he was used to playing against at Indiana. In the preseason he split playing time with Josh McRoberts but ultimately never stood a chance of beginning the year as the starting PF. Through 40 games Zeller has mostly struggled to find his shot but everything else has mostly fallen in line, 4 boards, half a steal and a half a block in 17 min per game. Zeller’s role today is the first and only big off the bench, about 12-18 minutes. If Al Jefferson or McBob were to become injured then Zeller would unquestionably get 30 min per game. Cody could theoretically overtake McRoberts and start, not sure that’s going to happen but I reckon it could. If Cody Zeller were to ever receive 30 minutes nightly we can expect a line of .480/.750/0/12.0/8.0/1.0/1.0/1.0/2.0. The future is even brighter though with the upside to be a perennial 20/10 performer.