New Orleans Pelicans shooting guard CJ McCollum has sustained a right lung injury, and he’s out indefinitely.
New Orleans Pelicans veteran guard CJ McCollum could miss multiple weeks with a lung injury. (Image: Getty)
McCollum, 32, was diagnosed with a small pneumothorax, otherwise known as a collapsed lung, on Sunday. The source of the injury is unknown, but McCollum logged 33 minutes in a loss against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.
This marks the second time since 2021 that McCollum sustained a serious lung injury. He missed 18 games with a collapsed right lung in December of 2021 when he was a member of the Portland Trail Blazers.
McCollum recovered from his initial lung injury in less than three weeks, but the Trail Blazers kept him out of the lineup for three additional weeks out of caution.
Doctors are trying to determine if both injuries are related. McCollum will undergo further testing over the next two days to determine how much time he will miss.
McCollum is the second-leading scorer on the Pelicans this season, averaging 21.7 points, 5.7 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per game.
Next Man Up: Hawkins, Daniels, Lewis
McCollum is one of the team’s locker room leaders and the Pelicans will miss his deadly perimeter shooting. They were already short-handed, with two long-range bombers sidelined with injuries, including forward Trey Murphy (knee) and guard Jose Alvarado (ankle). McCollum is shooting 44% overall from the floor, and 38% from 3-point range.
We’re so used to dealing with adversity, we just show up each and every day and take on the new challenge that comes with it,” said forward Herb Jones.
With McCollum and Alvardo both out, several young guards have a chance at earning increased playing time under head coach Willie Green.
Rookie Jordan Hawkins won an NCAA championship with UConn in March, and the Pelicans selected him with the #14 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. Hawkins has started three games already this season and is averaging 9.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.
Dyson Daniels, a first-round pick last season, averages 6.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in 23 minutes per game off the bench this season.
Point guard Kira Lewis, a first-round pick from the 2020 NBA Draft, appeared in 103 games with the Pelicans during his first three seasons in the league. He has a career-scoring average of 5.7 points.
Pelicans Start 4-1, Always Worried About Williamson
The Pelicans entered this season praying that power forward Zion Williamson avoids the injury bug that plagued him in his first four seasons in the league.
Williamson, the #1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, missed the entire 2021-22 season with a fractured foot. He appeared in only 29 games last season because of a hamstring injury. He missed 135 games over the last two seasons.
At the start of last season, the Pelicans competed for the best record and #1 seed in the Western Conference with a healthy Williamson. Without Williamson, the Pelicans missed the postseason. They finished in ninth place in the conference and got knocked out of the Play-In Tournament.
Williamson leads the Pelicans in scoring this season, averaging 22.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. He appeared in five out of six games this season, and last week sat out the second game of a back-to-back series. With Williamson resting, McCollum stepped up with 33 points in a victory over the Detroit Pistons.
While Williamson was the big injury concern heading into this season, forward Brandon Ingram missed three games with tendonitis in his right knee. Even with Ingram out for multiple games, the Pelicans started the season 4-1. They are now 4-2 after an 18-point loss against the Hawks on Saturday.
Betting the Pelicans (Without McCollum)
The Pelicans square off against the defending champion Denver Nuggets on Monday in Colorado. The Nuggets are 6-1 and have the best record in the Western Conference. With McCollum out because of his lung injury, the Pelicans are +5.5 road favorites versus the Nuggets.
The Pelicans are 4-2 against the point spread (ATS) this season, and the Nuggets are 4-3.
The Pelicans were +220 odds to win the Southwest Division at the start of the season, and their divisional odds have since improved to +170. The Dallas Mavericks had a hot start to the season at 5-1 and are the betting favorite to win the Southwest Division at -125 odds.
The Pelicans are +2500 odds to clinch the Western Conference crown, and they’re +5000 odds to win the 2023-24 NBA Championship.
The Pelicans are -185 odds to reach the playoffs this season, and +150 odds to miss the postseason.
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