Former Lehigh men’s basketball star and current Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum, ’13, has garnered the Kia NBA Most Improved Player award, which was announced Friday by the league. The award recognizes the player who has displayed dramatic improvement from the previous season or seasons.
With the Trail Blazers reconstructing their roster last offseason, McCollum went from a bench player to the team’s second-leading scorer. The two-time Patriot League Player of the Year increased his scoring average from 6.8 points per game to 20.8 in a span of one year to solidify himself as one the rising stars in the league. His 14-point year-to-year increment is the largest increase an NBA player has had since 1989-90 season.
McCollum was able to take advantage of assuming a larger role this season, finishing 18th in scoring (20.8), eighth in three-point percentage (41.7) and ninth in three-pointers made (197). To go along with his 20.8 points per game, McCollum added 4.3 assists per game and 3.9 rebounds per game to help lead the Trail Blazers to the fifth seed in the Western Conference.
According to NBA.com, McCollum received 101 first-place votes and 559 total points from a panel of 130 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada.
McCollum’s season has yet to conclude as the Trail Blazers are in the heat of a best-of-seven-game series with the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers currently have a 2-0 lead in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.