The Portland Trail Blazers have definitely expanded their depth from a year ago. The injury to rookie guard C.J. McCollum will have an impact on Portland’s depth, but how much of an impact is the question.
The Blazers luckily weren’t done this offseason when they drafted McCollum. The likes of Allen Crabbe, Mo Williams, and Earl Watson will all be great additions to help this backcourt. They will need all of them with this injury.
A time table for his return cannot be determined until he undergoes surgery. In the meantime, the guys mentioned above, along with the other guys already in place, will have to step up to fill the void. From Wednesday night’s game against Phoenix, I don’t see this being a problem.
I really like what both Will Barton and Crabbe were able to do in their time on the court. The backup shooting guard role is up for grabs and they are battling it out. This will be fun to keep an eye on this preseason.
I also love the addition of Mo Williams. Williams is another guy, like McCollum, who can play with the ball in his hand and play off the ball. Damian Lillard is another player that is capable of handling both tasks. Williams will be huge, especially without McCollum, and he will get plenty of minutes.
As Neil Olshey said in Williams’ introduction to the Blazers, he is their “sixth starter”. He now has the chance of earning the minutes that his title comes with. He will play as a substitute to in able to give Lillard some rest. He will also play a lot of minutes alongside Lillard in a two-guard set where you will see both players playing on and off the ball.
McCollum’s injury, although he will be missed, is just an opportunity for other young guys to get reps and continue to grow for this team. As far as Crabbe and Barton go, I see them both getting action on the court and head coach Terry Stotts will play the hot hand (as he described in many situations last year with bench players) between the two.
If there was one thing that was reminded to me during last year’s postseason, it was that you can never have enough shooters. The Blazers have added plenty of that this season. Williams can shoot lights out. Crabbe was an elite shooter in college and he has range which usually translates well into the NBA. Dorell Wright will also help out in that category, maybe more so than others.
This is a great group that was added to Portland. Like many others, I am excited to see what they can bring to the table. Once McCollum is able to return, well, that is just another piece to the puzzle.