He may be the NBA's reigning Kia Most Improved Player; a top 20 scorer and the only player since 2004 to record an all-around performance of 35 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and five steals in a game, but none of that projects Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum as a first-time All-Star in 2016-17 in ESPN's predictions for the upcoming season.
McCollum is listed as 'Honorable Mention' in ESPN's rankings of potential All-Star first timers behind Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns, Miami's Hassan Whiteside and Utah's Gordon Hayward among others. While it might appear as a slight at first glance, Pacific Northwest-based ESPN writer Kevin Pelton brings up the simple fact that if fellow Blazer Damian Lillard can't be elected as an All-Star while posting career bests in 2015-16, the odds are stacked against McCollum as well.
The rankings could serve as motivation for McCollum, not that he needs any being a guy that went from being a 5-7 high schooler to small school standout to NBA star.
“I’m driven by legacy, I’m driven by my last name, I’m driven by where I come from,” McCollum told Trailblazers.com's Casey Holdahl after signing a contract extension warlier in the summer. “I don’t want to be known as a guy who got paid and then fell off. I don’t want to be know as a guy who they say ‘He was really good early and then he kind of faltered late.’ I want them to say ‘He consistently got better each year.'"
See the full rankings at ESPN.com (Insider access required).