Darren Collison has a new home. As much of a blessing as being the back-up point guard to Chris Paul can be, when you have Collison’s abilities, its more of a constraint to have to sit for the majority of a game. And even though he didn’t experience much constraint due to injuries Paul suffered, its good to see him get an opportunity to carry his own team, something he proved he can do in 37 starts last season, during CP3′s absence.
Collison started 37 games last season and averaged 19 points, nine assists, and four rebounds in 40 minutes a contest. On top of that, Darren surprised many with an above average mid and long-range jumpshot. Collison’s speed is his main asset right now. As a young star with fresh legs, Darren can get by pretty much any defender at will. But unlike some other quick guards in the league, Collison already has a jumper to fallback on. From mid-range and even behind the three-point line, Darren’s quirky delivery doesn’t effect his ability to convert his looks and he is way ahead of schedule in that department.
Collison also put up great assist numbers in New Orleans with a pretty poor supporting cast. David West was the only other potent offensive option other than Marcus Thornton, who was hot and cold for portions of the season. Darren had 14 games last season with at least 10 assists including a 20-assist performance against the Warriors and an 18-helper night against the Grizzlies. With an all-star like Danny Granger running the wing with him, Collison may average double-digit assists next season. And, because of his agility and ability to get into small spaces, Collison is also a pretty solid rebounder. He’s not going to cure Indiana’s severe problem on the boards but he should help in that department.
The issue with Collison will limiting his turnovers. His flash on a bad team was enough to disguise him as an extremely efficient player but his turnover issues actually had an extremely negative effect on New Orleans’ season. For the season, Collison averaged three turnovers a game but he also had 26 games with four or more turnovers as well as some games with seven, eight and 10 turnovers. This is one area of his game where speed comes back to bite him. Darren’s feet were too quick for his dribble too often and that led to a lot of miss dribbles and losses of possession.
Taking care of the ball is a problem a lot of young players have and it will most likely get better with time. And with everything else he brings to the table, and for the price the Pacers paid (an expiring contract, taking on a bad contract, and paying Collison’s tiny rookie salary), its hard to find a better value in the NBA.
Defensively its tough to say where Collison is at right now. He’s a crafty player, capable of creating a lot of havoc for the opposition by forcing turnovers. Then again, he isn’t very strong and a more physical guard like Deron Williams could have a field day with him in pick and rolls and on post-ups. Darren will continue to improve as his understanding of defense widens over the next couple of seasons but his size, specifically his weight, may always be an issue.
Season Age Tm Lg G GS MP FG% 3P% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2009-10 22 NOH NBA 76 37 27.8 .477 .400 .851 2.5 5.7 1.0 0.1 2.7 1.2 12.4
Career NBA 76 37 27.8 .477 .400 .851 2.5 5.7 1.0 0.1 2.7 1.2 12.4
Season MP PER TS% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% ORtg DRtg OWS DWS WS
2009-10 2109 16.5 .546 5.3 32.9 1.9 0.1 18.9 23.1 105 112 1.9 1.1 2.9
Career 2109 16.5 .546 5.3 32.9 1.9 0.1 18.9 23.1 105 112 1.9 1.1 2.9
Collison’s speed is something that is hard to describe and even harder to find a number to represent it but if I had to choose one I’d say his statistical brilliance in isolation sets proves that he is elite when it comes to getting passed his defender in a one-on-one situation. Darren scored .96 points per possession in isolation sets last season, according to Synergy Sports Technology, which was the 31st best number in the league. Additionally, Collison ranked 69th when it come to spot-up shooting with 1.09 points per possession.
On spot up jumpshots, Darren shot 49% last season. According to Hoopdata, Collison shot 56% at the rim, 40% within 10 feet, 46% from 10-15 feet, and 45% from 16-23 feet. Those numbers are pretty top notch for a rookie guard. Additionally, during his 37 starts, Darren shot 43% from three-point range. When you consider his elite level speed and this complete array of efficient jumpshots, Collison already has a complete scoring game to feature in Indiana.
Not surprisingly, Collison ranks just 44th in the league in assist to turnover ratio at 2.14 helpers per giveaway. As I mentioned before, his major weakness is taking care of the basketball. Perhaps in a more controlled offense and another year of experience under his belt that figure will improve but that’s looking at things with the glass half full.
Defensively, Collison ranked below averaged with a defensive rating of 12 but he did have some areas that he succeeded in. Particularly when it came to defending point guards that were taking jump shots, Darren did a good job of contesting their shots and holding them to just .78 points per possession, the 25th best defensive mark in the league in this particular scenario. In other areas, like isolation sets and the pick and roll, however, Collison has a great deal to improve on.
Offense: 7 out of 10 – Collison is one of the more complete offensive point guards in the league, which is a little odd considering he is entering into just his second season. A guy like Tyreke Evans may be more adept of a scorer because of how unstoppable he is at getting to the rim, but he doesn’t have a jumpshot to compliment that. Darren is solid both at taking the ball to the rim and shooting from different spots on the floor. Throw in a pretty good feel for the game when it comes to passing and a brand new wing scorer in Danny Granger to play with, Collison is going to have a nice career with the Pacers.
Defense: 4 out of 10 – Darren is not a good defender at this point in his career and that’s fine. With all his brings offensively, his defensive contributions can be put up with for now but at some point he will have to improve either his method with dealing with bigger guards or put on some weight in order to handle the larger players. Otherwise, he will struggle for the remainder of his career on this end of the floor.
Overall: 11 out of 20 – Collison is a top 15 point guard in the league in my mind and he is now the leader of his own team in Indiana, which gives him an opportunity to increase his overall value. Offensively Darren is already one of the better young guards in the league and if he can make some adjustments on the other end of the floor he will be one of the best all-around guards the NBA has to offer.