Lehigh's C.J. McCollum worked out Thursday for the Detroit Pistons.
(The Associated Press)
C.J. McCollum's journey along the pre-draft trail has brought a lot of questions, as many from himself as from NBA general managers, one of whom asked, "Are you interviewing me or am I interviewing you?"
The Lehigh guard said it's important for both parties to understand each other, and with one of the most important decisions of the June 27 NBA Draft quite possibly falling to the Detroit Pistons at No. 8 overall -- McCollum or Michael Carter-Williams? -- teams are immersed in comparing the two against each other.
If the Pistons take a point guard in the first round, do they go for the playmaking skills and size of Carter-Williams, the 6-foot-6 former Syracuse player with the cockeyed jumper for a team seeking both size and shooting in the backcourt?
Or do they go for McCollum, the 6-3 combination guard from Lehigh who can shoot but had a balky history as a mid-major college playmaker?
Some of that question falls to whether the Pistons draft a point guard or plan to go another direction, and how they view Brandon Knight, who has played both backcourt positions but now has a new head coach with a history of guard development in Maurice Cheeks.
That's one big question McCollum said he had for the Pistons.
"I think he's definitely capable of playing both positions," McCollum said of Knight. "He played the one at Kentucky and he's done a good job in the NBA as a combo guard, so it will be interesting to see what the coach decides."
McCollum and Carter-Williams were among the potential first-round picks who worked out this week at the Pistons' practice facility, which is on private property and closed to media.
Centers Miles Plumlee and Cody Zeller were expected Friday, with Shabazz Muhammad planned Monday, as the Pistons pursue their common course, during their extended era as a draft lottery team, of waiting until late in the process to work out potential first-round picks.
Carter-Williams said at last month's NBA Draft Combine that he was encouraged by the Pistons' approach after meeting with them.
"They wanted to know about some of my life and my personal life," he said. "I was fine answering those questions. They criticized my game a little bit. They gave me a lot of compliments, of course. But I was happy with it. I'm happy that they kept it real with me and they said what they didn't like about my game."
McCollum played four years at a university where an NBA Draft selection is big news. He was a big-time scorer against lesser competition but not a great creator.
In a draft already lacking in marquee players, McCollum has suffered to some degree from the curse of overexposure.
"You look at the ages of these draft picks, some people don't know the true ages of players, and here I'm a 21-year-old senior -- I started college at 17 -- and it's kind of funny how you get tagged as a, quote, 'older player,' when in reality, some of these guys in lower grades are older than me," McCollum said.
The age remark was a clear reference to UCLA's Muhammad, who played in college under the common public belief that he was 19 years old before a March report in the Los Angeles Times disclosed he actually is 20.
McCollum said he didn't mean to take a shot at his draft rival.
"Shabazz, I actually told him to shout me out on Twitter so I could get some followers," McCollum said. "I like his game."