The dynamic tandem of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum has been the lifeblood of the Portland Trail Blazers’ offense for the past three seasons. The backcourt duo is averaging a combined 49 ppg (almost 50 percent of Portland’s point production) and shooting a 42 percent field goal clip this season.

There’s no denying the Lillard-McCollum connection is keeping the Blazers’ afloat in a brutal Western Conference, but their skills-set are so similar that some NBA scribes wonder if trading one of them for a perimeter stopper would make Portland even a better team.

Breaking up the duo

A panel of Sports Illustrated writers chimed in on the idea of splitting the Blazers’ backcourt. While Lillard and McCollum have been incredible offensively, the SI writers believed fielding both guards on the floor at the same time still presents underlying defensive issues despite the fact that Portland currently is the 7th best defense in the NBA (101 points allowed per game).

To balance out the Blazers backcourt, the scribes dropped a hypothetical trade that would involve another team that also has two star players with the same skills-sets, the Minnesota Timberwolves. “C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard are similar. Andrew Wiggins and Jimmy Butler are similar. Breaking up both pairings would conceivably round out both teams,!” according to the S.I article.

The Wolves traded for Jimmy Butler for him to mentor their young guns and steady the ship in the closing minutes of the game. After 10 regular-season games, Butler saw his numbers plummet to 15.1 ppg from career-high 23.9 ppg last season.

The drop-off in his point production wasn’t surprising at all due to the presence of another winger in Andrew Wiggins, but nobody expected Butler to sacrifice too many touches to give way for his young teammate.

Butler, a three-time All-Star, and a bona fide two-way player has the fifth highest usage of 19.9 percent – which is only the fifth best usage rate on the Wolves roster.

Patience is a virtue

While the Wiggins for McCollum swap could drastically improve both teams, the Blazers and the Wolves have valid reasons why they won’t explore this kind of a deal for the time being.

McCollum is a low-maintenance player who keeps finding ways to score without holding the ball all the time. Wiggins, on the other hand, is still 22 and the Wolves are optimistic that the Canadian stud develops into a perennial All-Star wingman. He and 21-year-old power forward Karl Anthony-Towns represent the present and future of the up-and-coming Timberwolves.