CJ McCollum

Blazers rookie C.J. McCollum will play his first professional game in the D-League


The Blazers selected C.J. McCollum with the 10th overall pick in this summer’s draft, not necessarily knowing just how good the team’s guard play would be to this point in the season.

Portland, of course, has been one of the year’s biggest surprises, and has a won-loss record that places them among the league’s elite teams — at least for now. They haven’t needed McCollum, which is good since he hasn’t played a minute for the Blazers after breaking a bone in his foot in October.

But he’s at the point in his recovery where he’s been cleared to play, and is expected to make his professional debut in the D-League this weekend with the Idaho Stampede. McCollum was assigned today, and he’ll be available when the team plays home games in Boise on Friday and Saturday, according to a team announcement.

McCollum dazzled in one of the more competitive games at Las Vegas Summer League, and was a dark horse pick by some to compete for Rookie of the Year honors before going down with the injury. Portland’s rotation is crowded at the guard spots, with Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews playing heavy minutes and Mo Williams providing support off the bench.

There’s no guarantee McCollum will get more than a cursory sniff at some floor time if the winning continues, but it’s nice to have a talented asset on the roster who can be brought along slowly until he’s ready to contribute to what’s become one of the league’s top teams.

Carmelo Anthony says he can play at high level 4-5 more years

USA Basketball Men's National Team Training Camp

Carmelo Anthony can flat-out score the rock — that has never been the question. Even hurting last season for many of the 40 games he played, he averaged 24.2 points a game, had a true shooting percentage of 53.1 percent (right near the league average) while having the entire weight of the Knicks offense on his shoulders (32.2 usage rate, fifth highest in the NBA). When people (or players) talk about him being overrated, the discussion turns to defense or if he makes his teammates better. But there should be no doubt Anthony is an elite scorer.

He thinks he will be for a while longer — like another five years. Via Ian Begley of ESPN:

In fact, the 31-year-old Knicks star is confident that he can play at a high level for the next “four or five years.”

“Without a doubt. Without a doubt,” Anthony said after the Knicks’ final training camp practice on Saturday.

The Knicks better hope that’s true, they already made that bet with that massive five-year contract they gave him last summer.

Anthony’s age combined with him coming off knee surgery have a lot of people — myself included — expecting him to take a step back. Not a big one, but he is coming up at the point in his career where some open shots he used to get are now contested because he’s half-a-step slower, and some of those looks don’t fall as often. His jumper isn’t suddenly going to look like Rajon Rondo‘s, ‘Melo is going to get his points, but he may not be as efficient.

Fortunately, the Knicks have an improved supporting cast around him this season. That should take some offensive load off his shoulders, and maybe the Knicks offense will see better ball movement and start to resemble the triangle. If it’s just more isolation Anthony, it’s not going to be pretty.

Kings pick up option on G Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore, Rodney Hood
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.

General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.

McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.