Smith: Darren Collison deserves your attention

By TYLER SMITH (@TylerSmith_ISL)
ISL Editor

Darren Collison is averaging a career-high in assists for the Pacers. (Photo by Pacers Sports and Entertainment)

Darren Collison is averaging a career-high in assists for the Pacers.
(Photo by Pacers Sports and Entertainment)

INDIANAPOLIS —  When you think about the Indiana Pacers, you probably think about Victor Oladipo and a team that has surprised a lot of people.  You might also think about Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis- two 21-year-olds with bright futures.  You might think about the human GIF Lance Stephenson and his crazy antics.

Not many people talk about Darren Collison, but maybe it’s time they did.

The Pacers are 29-23 on the season, and Darren Collison is a huge reason why.  When he returned to the Pacers on a 2-year deal, fans were either confused by the signing, or they viewed it as a filler move for a team hoping to get a high draft pick.

But just look at the numbers, and you’ll start to realize just how good Collison has been.

  • Leads the Pacers in 3-point shooting (43.6%)
  • Leads the Pacers in assists with a career-high 5.3 assist per game. (22nd in the NBA)
  • 3rd in the NBA in assist/turnover ratio (4.08)
  • Plays 30.1 minutes per game, and has only committed 65 turnovers the entire season.
  • Only starting point guard in the NBA who has more steals than turnovers. (70-65)
  • 9th in the NBA in PER among point guards (18.79), ahead of players like Kyle Lowry, Ben Simmons, and Eric Bledsoe.

In addition to these impressive numbers, Collison is 5th among point guards in true shooting % (.609).  One of the players ahead of him only plays 17 minutes per game (Calderon).  The other three names?  Steph Curry, James Harden, and Chris Paul.  Are you convinced yet?

The Pacers commit the fourth fewest turnovers in the NBA at 13.3 turnovers per game.  That would be a new franchise record if they kept that pace.  In the 2016-2017 season, they committed a franchise-best 13.8 turnovers per game.  A statistic like that is a total team effort, but Darren Collison sets the tone.

Believe it or not, Collison has been better than Jeff Teague was a season ago by rate stats. (NBA.com)

  • Collison in 2017-2018: 110.4 Offense Rating, 106.7 Defensive Rating= Net rating of 3.7
  • Teague in 2016-2017:  108.1 Offensive Rating, 106.8 Defensive Rating= Net rating of 1.2

“He’s done a really solid job of leading us,” said Pacers Coach Nate McMillan. “He’s providing scoring at that position, making plays, and he’s just been a glue to our team.”

He’s shooting a career-best in all three shooting categories.  He’s led the Pacers in assists 32 times this season.  And he continues to be an underrated part of this Pacers team.

After the Pacers defeated Memphis on Wednesday night, Collison dished out praise for his team like he has dished out the ball this season. “You want everybody to be involved,” he said. “You want everybody to contribute. I thought we did a good job distributing the ball to each other and we got good looks.  We’re a scary team when we move the ball and get help from multiple guys.”

You may think Collison struggles on the defensive end.  You may think he’s not a core piece for the team’s future. But if you’re just talking about the here and now, Collison has been everything the Pacers could want, and more.  He’s a great teammate, a quiet leader, and the numbers simply don’t lie.

It’s time to believe in Kevin Pritchard, as if the Paul George trade wasn’t proof enough.  And it’s time to give Darren Collison the attention he deserves.

Valentine's Day Shopping event featuring several local Indy vendors!

Valentine’s Day Shopping event featuring several local Indy vendors!

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