When Darren Collison burns through a defense with a quick move to the basket, it reminds you how much difference it makes when you have speed at the point-guard position.
And when you see Collison unable to help get the Mavericks a quality shot in the final minute of a close game, it reminds you how much difference it makes when you don’t have experience at that spot.
Collison came in this season with the impossible task of replacing Jason Kidd. When you break down what he’s done, it’s hard to imagine a 25-year-old, fourth-year pro doing much better than he has.
Despite some rough spots, Collison has made a pretty solid case for being a keeper in this proving-ground of a season. He’s averaged 12.9 points and 5.5 assists. Those are numbers that measure up well to Kidd over the last couple years.
Lately, it’s been more impressive for Collison. He’s started every game for the Mavericks since Christmas and averaged 14.2 points and 6 assists in 24 games. Considering he’s shooting better than 48 percent for the season, it’s a nice run Collison is putting together.
Collison has survived a season when he was replaced by 37-year-old Derek Fisher, had to fend off Dominique Jones, Roddy Beaubois and Mike James for important minutes and has been worked as hard as he’s ever been worked in his life by his coach.
And it’s worth every second, he said.
“You got to figure out who you are as a player for this team,” Collison said. “They want to keep grinding you and grinding you and help you get better as a player and see who you are.
“I think they found out who I was. I never backed down from the challenge, despite coming off the bench for some games. I always kept my head high. It’s not easy. There were some tough cards dealt to me, but that’s life. It’s how you deal with it at the end of the day. Every day, I tried to make a concerted effort to get better.”