C.J. McCollum.

Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum named Kia NBA Most Improved Player

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In a move that surprised very few people, Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard C.J. McCollum has been named the Kia NBA Most Improved Player.

After a breakthrough season with the Western Conference franchise that saw them surprise a number of experts and reach the playoffs, McCollum beat off competition from Kemba Walker and Giannis Antetokounmpo to claim the prize. 

From a panel of 130 sportswriters and broadcasters in the United States of America and Canada, McCollum claimed 101 first-placed votes and 559 in total. 

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Charlotte Hornets point guard Walker was some way off in second with 166 votes and seven first-placed selections while the 'Greek Freak' from the Milwaukee Bucks had four first-place votes and 99 in total.

The reigning Most Valuable Player and overwhelming favourite to reclaim the award, Stephen Curry, finished fourth in the voting.

McCollum became just the third Portland Trail Blazer in NBA history to win the award. The previous winner for the franchise was Zach Randolph in 2004 while Kevin Duckworth claimed the prized in 1988.

C.J. MCollum

After Portland parted ways with four of their starting five before the season began, the 2015-16 campaign was tipped to be a tough one for the organisation.

However, coupled with his backcourt partner Damian Lillard, McCollum has led the Blazers to quite an incredible campaign. 

The 24-year-old saw his minutes on the hardwood drastically increase as he became a starter. He went from an average of 15.7 minutes per night in the previous campaign to 34.8. With that, his points increased from 6.8 per game to 20.8.

His shooting percentage also rose from 43.6 percent to 44.8 while his accuracy from three-point territory was up to 41.7 percent from 39.6.

In the 2014-15 season, McCollum banked just 55 shots from behind the arc, but this year he nailed 197 of his 472 attempts. 

The guard's free-throw percentage also rose from a poor 69.9 percent to 82.7, but it was not just his shooting that drastically improved. 

His rebounding numbers were up from 1.5 per night to 3.2 while he was providing 4.3 assists a game for his teammates compared to one dime an outing in the previous campaign.

Portland Trail Blazers v Cleveland Cavaliers

Last season, McCollum featured in 62 games for Portland and only managed three starts. He scored double figures 18 times and reached the 20-point mark three times. 

This campaign, though, he has figured in 80 games for the organisation, starting all of them, and reached double figures all but once. He scored at least 20 points on 40 occasions., 

The 2013 10th draft pick scored a career-high 37 points earlier in the campaign as the Portland Trail Blazers beat the New Orleans Pelicans in October. 

The recently completed regular season has been a breakthrough campaign for McCollum and everyone involved with Portland will be hoping his improvement can continue. 

Portland Trail Blazers v Boston Celtics

Damian Lillard
Portland Trail Blazers
Northwest Division
Western Conference
CJ McCollum

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