What Happened to CJ McCollum, and Why Isn’t He Playing for the Portland Trail Blazers?

The Portland Trail Blazers are one of the NBA teams many wish would stay healthy. Injuries have impacted the Trail Blazers’ in recent years, hampering their championship aspirations. Things have been steady for the team early in the season, but Portland recently suffered injuries to two starters on the team, one being CJ McCollum.

The first injured Portland starter is Jusuf Nurkic. Nurkic has a broken wrist and is out for at least eight weeks. McCollum suffered a foot injury in Saturday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks. The initial thought was it was a minor injury, but an MRI revealed McCollum would be out for an extended period.

CJ McCollum has had a great start to the season

The Blazers are currently 8-6 on the season, and McCollum’s performance is a primary reason why. He has put together the best stretch of basketball of his career early this season. He has sought out more 3-point shots but has also utilized his mid-range game. The mid-range game has been McCollum’s calling card, but his deep ball has been on fire to start.

McCollum has shot 40% or better from 3-point land in eight games this season, per ESPN. According to an ESPN report, he has increased his points per game output per 36 minutes by 6.5 points. The increase in deep ball effectiveness and scoring has resulted in McCollum having one of his best starts to a season. 

McCollum is averaging 26.7 points in 13 games this season. That is a career-high for McCollum, as he has scored the ball with ease. His 26.7 points is the ninth-highest scoring average in the NBA. His playmaking is improved, averaging a career-high five assists a game this year. McCollum has been exceptionally good, and him alongside Damian Lillard is a dangerous backcourt combination.

The hot start McCollum has had is going to come to an abrupt end. The All-Star guard will now be out for the foreseeable future because of the foot injury. The injury didn’t seem severe initially, but more tests revealed a significant injury to Portland’s star guard.

CJ McCollum will miss time with a foot fracture

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When McCollum injured himself against the Hawks, it was reported that he suffered a foot sprain. X-rays were taken of his foot, and head coach Terry Stotts said those x-rays didn’t reveal any serious injuries. It was said the McCollum and his sprained foot would be evaluated in about a week.

However, the Trailblazers did more tests on their guard’s foot. On Monday, the additional tests revealed that McCollum has a fracture in his left foot. He will be in a walking boot and will be re-evaluated in four weeks. The Trail Blazers released a statement late Monday about the injury McCollum has.

“Further imaging reveals CJ McCollum with a small hairline fracture to the lateral cuneiform in his left foot and a mid-foot sprain. McCollum will wear a walking boot and be re-evaluated in four weeks,” the team said in a statement per the Rome News Tribune.

The Blazers are going to take a cautious approach to McCollum’s rehabilitation. He has broken his left foot twice before in his career. Plus, giving him time to recover from this injury would put him in a position to be full strength for the stretch run. With their second-best scorer out, can the Blazers survive this stretch without two of their starters?

Can the Trail Blazers survive the injuries?

Losing two starters to injuries is devasting for the Portland Trail Blazers. At the beginning of the season, they had a roster with depth. Just a few weeks in and Portland has a roster decimated with injuries. They don’t have the depth anymore, which could raise problems for them as they try to survive this recent string of injuries.

Not only is Jusuf Nurkic out, but Zach Collins isn’t available for the Blazers. Collins underwent ankle surgery and is out indefinitely, which leaves Portland thin at the center position. They have Enes Kanter, who is a tremendous offensive talent, but a defensive liability. Harry Giles is the other center, but he hasn’t formed into a solid role player.

Gary Trent Jr. has shown that he can be a worthy replacement for McCollum, but Stotts won’t have the luxury of keeping at least one start on the floor. Anfernee Simons will likely have an increase in minutes but hasn’t proven to be the player expected him to be. The Blazers are going to feel the impact of these injuries and will try to stay afloat.

CJ McCollum’s fractured foot comes at the wrong time for him and the Blazers. It puts a halt to his fantastic start and trims Portland’s roster depth even more. Damian Lillard will have to do more to keep the Trail Blazers alive as they begin this stretch of games. Hopefully, McCollum can return to action soon.

Stats courtesy of ESPN