Darren Collison may not be the first choice of point guards and he may not be the last choice, but he may just be the best choice. Collison isn’t the franchise point guard the Pacers have lacked since Mark Jackson (for all you George Hill fans, read this, he was always a two-guard). However, he is the perfect bridge guard and could help mentor the next great Indiana Pacer point guard.
Indiana should re-sign Myles Turner and Glenn Robinson next offseason. Victor Oladipo should be their starting shooting guard for the foreseeable future. Domantis Sabonis and T.J. Leaf should battle it out for the starting power forward over the next couple of seasons.That leaves the future of Indiana’s point guard position in doubt.
Indiana should have a pick between the fifth and tenth overall leaving them just outside the Michael Porter, Marvin Bagley and Luka Doncic range, but giving them the opportunity to take one of next year’s top point guards. Collin Sexton, Lamar Peters or Trevon Duval could be the future of Indiana point guards.
Pacers president Kevin Pritchard has preached a changing of the culture in Indianapolis and Collision fits that model as a mentor. Collison, unlike most NBA players, went to college for all four years. While at UCLA he played next to future NBA guards Jordan Farmar, Arron Afflalo, Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday, learning from all of them. He played in three Final Fours before he was taken 21st overall in the 2009 NBA draft by New Orleans.
Collison learned the hard way in the NBA. His second season began with a trade to the Pacers, where he was named the starting point guard of an extremely young team. After struggling in his second season with the Pacers he was replaced by George Hill (ironically, the same thing is happening in Sacramento).
Collison was then traded from Indiana to Dallas where he started only half of their games before leaving in the offseason to sign with the Clippers as Chris Paul’s backup. He gained playoff experience while in Los Angeles. During game four of the Western Conference semifinals, Collison came up in the clutch and scored 18 points, including eight of the Clippers’ last 14 points in a 101-99 win.
That offseason Collison did what anybody looking for a chance to prove himself would do, he signed a contract with Sacramento Kings. He started for them in two of the past three seasons while developing into a 50-40-85 player.
Collison is only 6’0” and has had to fight for every inch he’s earned in the league. Today he isn’t a top ten point guard, but he’s definitely in the top 20. He’s proven to be a quality scorer and facilitator of the offense. He’s been in every situation and has seen almost everything the league has to offer.
He won’t be the starting point guard on a championship team; he might never play on the bench of a championship team. But Collison has insight that can invaluable to a rookie point guard. He’ll try to pass some of it on to Joe Young, an eerily similar guard to Collision, but Young might not be in Indiana’s future plans.
If the Pacers take a point guard in next year’s draft he won’t be ready for at least two seasons. Point guards in the NBA take longer to develop. Collison has a second-year option at $10 million. Pritchard might decide to pick it up and let the Collison teach a young guard how to succeed in the NBA.