Pelicans face Trail Blazers in CJ McCollum’s return to Portland

CJ McCollum plays against Blazers for first time since trade |
Photo Credit: Gerald Herbert AP Photo

For the first time in his professional career, C.J. McCollum will play in the Moda Center against his former team, the Portland Trail Blazers.

In what’s set to be an emotional night for all in attendance, the nine-year guard of the Trail Blazers will look to lead the Pelicans past an injury ridden Trail Blazers team. New Orleans comes into tonight’s action 32-43 good for ninth in the Western Conference. They sit just a game ahead of both the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs.

As the Pelicans lead guard, McCollum has showcased his skillset to the level that Rip City had always known he was capable of. In 19 games, McCollum has averaged 25.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists while shooting 38.4% from beyond the arc.

The split between McCollum and the Trail Blazers came in the form of a trade centered around a McCollum for Josh Hart swap. Unfortunately for Portland, the Trail Blazers will be without Hart, and a plethora of others in Wednesday night’s game against the Pelicans.

Trail Blazers Injury Report 3/30/22

  • Eric Bledsoe (left achilles; tendinopathy)
  • Josh Hart (left knee; patellar tendinopathy)
  • Damian Lillard (core muscle recovery)
  • Joe Ingles (left knee recovery)
  • Nassir Little (left shoulder recovery)
  • Jusuf Nurkic (left foot; plantar fasciitis)
  • Anfernee Simons (left knee; patellar tendinopathy)
  • Trendon Watford (left knee; bone contusion)
  • Justise Winslow (left calf inflammation)

The harsh reality is that the Trail Blazers season has come to them playing for the best draft pick possible as they near towards an offseason that could alter the future of the organization. Portland came out of the All-Star break as the worst team in the Association, posting an abysmal 2-14 record.

In the 16-game stretch Portland has a net rating of -20.6, good enough for dead last in the league by a large margin. Despite the lackluster record, Portland’s season has had some diamonds in the rough will two-way and 10-day contracted players showing true growth with their expanded opportunity.

Photo Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Williams, an undrafted rookie out of Arizona, has shown flashes of being a serviceable guard in the rotation for the Trail Blazers in the coming years. A game that needs some polishing, Williams has showcased a keen skill for putting the ball in the basket. He is coming off a solid outing in an overtime loss against the Oklahoma City Thunder. In that game, he posted his first double-double with 25 points and 12 assists.

Portland is 12th in the Western Conference with the seventh best odds come draft lottery time. As they approach tonight’s game severely undermanned, it’s a high possibility that they edge closer to the sixth highest odds.

This Trail Blazers roster is certainly not in the same state that McCollum left it in. While we have to await the inevitable McCollum and Lillard clash in the Moda for a later day next season, a familiar face coming home has this set to be a memorable night.