This morning, Yahoo! Sports’ Marc Spears reported via unnamed source that Trail Blazers rookie C.J. McCollum, who has been sidelined since fracturing the fifth metatarsal in his left foot during training camp, will make his NBA debut “shortly after New Year’s Day“. Given that, I figured it would be a good idea to check in with McCollum after today’s shootaround in New Orleans to find out how he’s progressing after being cleared for full practice ten days ago. Here’s what he had to say about his return, including when he might see his first NBA minutes.
How are you feeling after a week of full practice?
“I feel pretty good. My legs are getting back underneath me, feel like I’m getting in a lot better shape, kind of getting my rhythm back and getting used to playing with the guys.”
What are some of the things you feel like you’ve lost after having to sit out the last few months and do you feel like those things are coming back?
“Just little things like the timing and kind of getting used to getting in different spots with the team and going through the plays and stuff like that. That’s the stuff you lose when you’re not playing. Where to pick and choose your spots from when scrimmaging and stuff like that.
“In terms of the rehab, I was on the court basically through the whole process so everything is kind of there still. Still got the jumpshots, still got the handle. The hardest stuff is just getting used to the speed because you set out for a little bit and you come back and you’re trying to come back in while everybody is in midseason form. That would be the only thing that’s an adjustment first when you go through practices, just the speed of everything, getting your shot off in traffic, stuff like that. But I don’t feel like it’s been too hard of a transition because I’ve been able to do a lot of stuff this time around.”
The team doesn’t practice much due to the number of games. Do you feel like you’re getting enough practice in?
“I’ve been getting a lot of gym time in. The live stuff, it fluctuates in terms of when we get to play three-on-three, four-on-four, five-on-five. Obviously when we have practice days coming off back-to-backs a lot of the starters don’t participate or are limited in their participation, so a lot of us get to play the four-on-four and the five-in-five stuff against each other. I usually get to the gym early on game days and get a workout in before 3:30 PM or so. I’m still trying to stay sharp but obviously the more five-on-five I can play, the better.”
Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports reported today that you’ll make your NBA debut shortly after the New Year. Do you have a date in mind for your return?
“We’re going over stuff right now. Hopefully I’ll be back soon. I know there’s no definite date penciled in yet, but hopefully we can get one soon to kind of get it going.”