Bleacher Report Names Portland Trail Blazers’ CJ McCollum NBA’s Best Shooter

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CJ McCollum is having a career year for the Portland Trail Blazers, and simply put: It keeps getting better.

Since January 1st, Rip City’s 2-guard has averaged 27.2 points per game while completing nearly 50 percent of his field goals and 40 percent of his three-point shots. These numbers are great in a vacuum, but where does McCollum rank among the league’s best shooters?

According to Bleacher Report’s Adam Fromal, Christian James is in a class all of his own.

Per Fromal, McCollum’s “points added on jumpers per game” equate to 2.351—the best in the NBA. The difference between his total and No. 2 Kyle Lowry is 0.437, which is larger than the gap between Lowry and No. 9 Chris Paul.

Here’s how this stat is calculated:

  1. Look at a player’s shooting percentages from 10 to 16 feet, 16 to 23 feet and beyond the three-point arc. Doubling the first two and tripling the third shows how many points per shot he’s recording from each zone.
  2. Subtract the league-average points per shot in each zone (0.820 from 10 to 16 feet, 0.802 from 16 to 23 feet and 1.074 on threes) to determine how many points per shot a player is adding from those ranges.
  3. Multiply the points added per shot in each zone by the shots per game in that same area to determine points added per game in each zone.
  4. Add those three products to arrive at points added on jumpers per game.

According to Fromal, here’s how McCollum’s numbers break down following the calculations:

  • Points Per Shot from 10-16 Feet: 1.01
  • Points Per Shot from 16-23 Feet: 0.968
  • Points Per Three-Point Shot: 1.266
  • Points Added on Jumpers Per Game: 2.351

Think numbers like these don’t mean much to players? Turn your attention to CJ himself:

The catch here is that objective analytics don’t take into account the ever-important eye test. For instance, Stephen Curry, one of the most prolific shooters in league history, is an honorable mention using Bleacher Report’s analytics. And Kyle Korver, a player who falls into that same category, is part of the “Next Up” list.

But it’s also important to note that these calculations only take into account the current season’s body of work, meaning reputation and legacy are not incorporated.

Caveats aside, it’s impossible to argue with the results as they pertain to McCollum. His three-point percentage this season (41.8) is 17th in the league, his two-point percentage (50.8) is tied for 25th and that ranking improves to third when looking at just shooting guards.

(Note: Only Klay Thompson and James Harden shoot a better two-point percentage among shooting guards this season, per ESPN.com. But as Basketball-Reference.com shows, the Beard has played 100 percent of his minutes at the point this season. Meaning: McCollum is really No. 2 among shooting guards in that category)

As Fromal elaborates, “Everything McCollum does is fluid. No one has been better at driving into the teeth of a defense and rising for a jumper in one quick motion. His high release gives the impression he’s elevating even higher, to the point that his pull-up attempts are virtually unblockable.”

The high release is something that makes McCollum particularly unique. It’s one thing to see Rasheed Wallace and LaMarcus Aldridge shoot over defenders with the ball starting well above their heads; it’s another to see a 6’3” guard do the same.

We hear all the time how McCollum is undersized for his position, but this is one of the reasons he’s become such a prolific scorer despite this supposed handicap.

Not to mention, his step-back jumper has become nearly unguardable.

The other thing Fromal points to is McCollum’s diversity in terms of shot location. As we already mentioned, the 2-guard is able to knock down buckets in a variety of fashions, but he’s also able to do it efficiently in different zones on the floor.

McCollum doesn’t always get the national spotlight as a result of playing alongside Damian Lillard, but as it turns out, analytics don’t lie.

Portland’s starting 2-guard deserves this recognition—spotlight be damned.

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