C.J. McCollum feels ‘valued’ by Blazers after receiving extension, hopes to improve defense next season
After being named the Most Improved Player for the 2015-16 season, C.J. McCollum signed a four-year $106 million contract extension with the Portland Trail Blazers. This past season, McCollum improved from an average of 6.8 points in 15.7 minutes to 20.8 points in 34.8 and has become a key element for the team.
Though he has found success in his three years in the league, McCollum maintains his eye on the prize and works to become a bigger asset to the team. It’s already known the man can score, but can his defense improve? Defense can always improve, and McCollum knows it. In an interview with Basketball Insiders, McCollum was asked about his individual and team goals for next season. McCollum, clearly aware that defense wins games, responded:
“I want to get better on defense. I’m really trying to work on my lateral movement and tracking down the ball on defense. I know getting better on defense will help this team, so I’m just trying to get better al all-around defense. The past couple weeks, I’ve been working with our assistant coach David Vanterpool, continuing to focus on the other side of the ball.”
Vouching for his player, Vanterpool shared affirmation for McCollum:
“C.J. is an incredibly quick learner who’s able to adjust well. He is always comfortable being uncomfortable, so when we try something new, he takes to it like a fish to water. This is no different. He’s being great just trying to add little pieces to his game, and defense is an area I don’t think enough people put emphasis on when they’re working individually to improve…We spend close to 30 minutes of an hour-and- a-half workout solely focused on defense, and it’s also incorporated into the other offensive work we do. He’s great at using angles and his hands, and he seems to enjoy the effect [his defensive strides] have had on his game. I love how hard he works at everything we add. Without question, he’s truly wrapped up in the process of getting better.’
As for his feelings about receiving a raise, McCollum talked less about the money and more about what it represents:
“It’s a great feeling, unlike anything [he’s] ever experienced. It shows that your organization believes in you and what you’ve done. They value me and it’s a great feeling to know that the feeling is mutual. When an organization has that much confidence in you, it makes you want to perform that much harder and continue to work to get better.”
The Blazers will look to shock the NBA again next season with another playoff run.