Video/Transcript: CJ McCollum On Trail Blazers Courtside
CJ McCollum was a guest on the most recent edition of Trail Blazers Courtside with Mike Barrett and Mike Rice. During the interview (which cuts out a couple of times due to poor cell reception) McCollum talks about working out at the team's practice facility, LaMarcus Aldridge's arrival, being compared to Damian Lillard, his improvement since summer league, team chemistry, focusing on basketball, the practice facility remodel as well as a few other things. Give it a watch, a read, or both.
What's the experience been like for you so far, both exploring the Portland area and working with your new teammates at the practice facility?
It's been a lot of fun just getting adjusted to the city out here in Portland and just trying to get accustomed to the Trail Blazers Ways and getting used to rookie duties and stuff like that. I'm definitely enjoying my time here. Guys are nice, guys work really hard and the NBA lifestyle is a lot different in terms of the treatment and attention coaches provide for you along with the training staff and team masseuse. It's first class all the way across the board.
Where you surprised to see LaMarcus Aldridge in the gym on Monday and do you usually play as many pickup games as you did or was it because everyone wanted to impress LaMarcus?
I hadn't seen LaMarcus in a while. A few weeks ago I went and worked out at night and he was there. LaMarcus, he works out at different times of the day. When he comes in sometimes he's putting work in late at night, sometimes he's in earlier in the morning like Wes. I was surprised to see him just because I didn't think him and a lot of the other veterans, I didn't think they'd be in until training camp.
That's every day. What you seen (Monday) with us playing, I mean, one day I played ten games. We keep track of the records and stuff. So we play that full 65 minutes out so it's best to get as many games in as you can.
Are you concerned about being measured against what Damian Lillard did last year, or are your expectations such that there's no extra pressure?
There's obviously going to be expectations. There's a lot of similarities between the two of us but have to realize we're coming in two different situations. I'm coming in to his team. This is his and LaMarcus Aldridge's team. So I'm just trying to fulfill a role. Whatever is necessary I'll get the job done. I don't feel any added pressure. I put a lot of pressure on myself and I expect myself to perform at a high level regardless of what role I'm playing. I know the expectations and the comparisons are going to be there all season but I'm not too worried about it. I just want to put myself in the best position to perform at a high level every time I'm stepping on the court.
How much have the offseason workouts helped you? Have you improved much this summer?
Yeah, I mean, summer league was a little shaky for me. There were a lot of ups and downs. I had some highlight moments and some moments where I didn't play as well or make good decisions, but I think my game has improved a lot since summer league alone in just getting used to everybody's tendencies and getting used to the speed of play and the deeper three-point line. But I feel like my game has changed a lot and is going to continue to change as we get close to the season and when the season starts. So I really look forward to just getting better every day and kind of learning from the other guys.
What position do you love to play and what do you think you'll play?
(Laughs) I just like to be on the court, honestly. I'm not going to (phone cuts out)
How excited are you to play in Terry Stotts' system, which promotes three-point shooting, alongside NBA athletes?
I get really excited. Coming from a smaller school, it's a dream to be able to play with great players who are good at different things. You've got guys that specifically just knock down shots, you've got guys that can do everything and you've got guys with great post moves, so it's a dream for me to be in this situation … (inaudible)
Coming from a smaller school, are you looking forward to a situation where you can do some different things, maybe not with the ball in your hands all the time?
I definitely relish the opportunity to have a specific role or a specific duty from the team and I think that it will allow me to be more efficient because I'll know exactly what I'm supposed to do night in, night out. I won't be forced to do everything. In college I had to do the scoring, I had to rebound, I had to kind of get guys shots, I had to defend at a high level. Now in the NBA I'll have to defend at a high level but my role will be more specific to what the team needs.
It seems like there's a chance for this current team to have great chemistry. Are you sensing that so far?
Yeah I definitely sense it. A lot of guys are cool and down to earth and I think it helps that we have a lot of younger guys on the team so guys try to understand where everybody is coming from, they understand whose team it is and everybody is just trying to blend in and play a role. I think that's the biggest thing you notice with guys is we're making the extra pass, we're kind of helping the helper, doing all the little things because at the end of the day, we all want to win and make the playoffs.
Have you seen a guy who works harder than Damian Lillard?
Not really. Dame works extremely hard. Him and Wes were competing about getting in there for the 6 AM workouts. Dame's in there pretty much every day and I think that's unusual because a lot of guys tend to go home or do those type of things, take a vacation, right before training camp starts, but he's been here pretty much the entire time.
Has the team talked about goals yet, like making the playoffs, or is it too early for that?
I'd say it's a little premature just because obviously we have to get a lot of chemistry together and stuff like that but I know it's definitely a topic and Dame and I discussed it a little bit but we haven't really talked with the whole team about it yet just mainly because everybody hasn't been in together at the same time. It's unspoken where you can kind of see the look on everybody's faces. We don't really talk about it but you can kind of see and from the whispers you know exactly what everybody is trying to do.
If it kind of a relief to only worry about basketball now that you're out of college?
Class and stuff, that was great. I really enjoyed my time there but I'm glad it's over with, obviously. It's amazing, you wake up, you play basketball, you lift, you get your core in, you get your massages in. Like I say everyday, I don't understand. This lifestyle is almost too good to be true.
They've done a nice job of remodeling the practice facility, haven't they?
Yeah, it looks terrific. Everything has been revamped and I like the TV's in the locker rooms, the bigger showers, the cool tubs, all that stuff. I used to take ice bathes in buckets so this is great.