C.J. McCollum of the Trail Blazers holding up the hardware he received Friday/Photo courtesy of Portland Trail Blazers
The guard tandem of the Portland Trail Blazers has had a tough time against the Clippers in the first two games of their first-round playoff series. Perhaps an award will at least get one of them going.
Portland shooting guard C.J. McCollum on Friday was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player. He finished with 101 out of a possible 130 first-place votes and 559 total points in what was a landslide vote from 130 sports writers and broadcasters.
Kemba Walker (7 first-place, 166 points) of Charlotte was second and Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee finished third (4 first-place, 99 points).
Interestingly, reigning league MVP Steph Curry of Golden State was fourth with seven first-place votes and 83 points.
McCollum, 24, is in just his third season. He averaged 6.8 points in 62 games – three starts – in 2014-15. This season he averaged 20.8 points while starting all 80 games in which he played during the regular season.
“C.J. worked extremely hard to have the season that he had this year,” Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said on the team’s website. “His work ethic and commitment to improve is the reason he is deserving of this award. He is an example to everyone what can be accomplished with diligent practice and a belief that you can always get better.”
McCollum is the third Portland player to win the award. Kevin Duckworth won it in 1987-88 and Zach Randolph won it in 2003-04.
McCollum scored just nine and 16 points, respectively, in losses to the Clippers in Games 1 and 2 at Staples Center. He shot 3 of 11 in Game 1, 6 of 17 in Game 2 for a combined 9 of 28 (32.1 percent).
Damian Lillard, Portland’s point guard, has shot a combined 13 of 39 (33.3 percent).
Game 3 is Saturday night at Moda Center in Portland.