Portland Trail Blazers All-Star guard CJ McCollum suffered a fracture in his left foot this past weekend and will be out of action indefinitely.
McCollum is part of a dynamic backcourt tandem alongside Damian Lillard, and the Blazers are really shorthanded when either of them are out. That’ll be the reality going forward for the foreseeable future.
CJ McCollum fractures foot, to be reevaluated in a month
The Blazers made an official announcement very early on Tuesday morning to reveal McCollum’s diagnosis and injury timeline:
So, he’s dealing with a foot sprain in addition to the fracture, which exacerbates the adversity McCollum faces as he works to get back to the court.
Although there is some decent depth on this Portland squad, it’s going to be impossible to replace the impact of someone like McCollum, who was playing some of the best basketball of his career before getting hurt.
CJ McCollum stats, Portland Trail Blazers outlook
In 13 games during the 2020-21 campaign, McCollum has posted career-high averages of 26.7 points and five assists and 1.3 steals per contest. Even taking on a higher shot volume and creating more off the dribble for teammates has McCollum averaging only one turnover per game, and he’s converted 44.1% of shots from beyond the arc despite hoisting 11 treys a night.
Production like that isn’t going to be made up for by one player, or even a few as the Blazers rotation currently stands. However, if there was a silver lining from Monday’s 125-104 loss to San Antonio, it’s that Rodney Hood scored 21 points, trailing only Lillard’s 35 for Portland.
If Hood can keep working his way back from the ruptured Achilles he suffered in December 2019 and capitalizes on an increased workload, he can be a big contributor to stepping up in McCollum’s absence, along with Robert Covington, who’s off to a rocky start this season.
The Blazers are also going to ask more of Gary Trent Jr. and Anfernee Simons to pick up the perimeter scoring load, too. Trent was something of a revelation in the Orlando bubble last season, hitting six or more 3-pointers in three of the seven seeding games he played in. Simons has had a somewhat disappointing career to date, but could shine in a larger role. As a rookie, he put up 37 points in the regular-season finale while Lillard and McCollum rested.
It’s a lot to ask for Lillard to lead Portland back to the playoffs with McCollum likely to miss a good chunk of the already-shortened, 72-game season. That said, this team has found a way to qualify for seven straight postseason berths, so perhaps Lillard and Co. can find a way to hang tough until McCollum returns.