What’s Up Darren Collison
It may be too late, but the Hornets PG is putting up ROY-like numbers.
by Aaron Vaccariello
The other night I was watching the 99’ teen flick Varsity Blues. You know, starring that guy from Dawson’s Creek. It’s similar to what’s going on within the Hornets organization.
You’ve got Chris Paul, a perennial All-Star, destined to do great things. A true star athlete. Same can be said about Lance Harbor, the star quarterback at West Canaan High. Now if you haven’t seen Varsity Blues, you might stop reading this shortly, and if you have seen it – you might stop reading this shortly. So to sum it up, the Coyotes lose their All-American to a knee injury. That’s when “Mox,” or James Van Der Beek as his friends call him, steps in as the hardly played, and underestimated benchwarmer. You may see where I’m going with this. No one knew what he could do, and no one really cared. They had already seen their fate.
CP3 went down, and NOLA folded hope after learning he’d likely miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. The news reverberated around the L, because let’s face it, a team playing without its centerpiece doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt. That’s what the West Canaan faithful felt when their star QB grimaced on the field clutching his knee; the season was void. Mox came in and made his mark immediately. Darren Collison, the rook from UCLA, got the same call.
For his first start in Paul’s place, Collison not only made his mark on the court, he etched his way into the Hornets record books. Scoring 17 points, and dishing out a rookie-record 18 assists helped interrupt the Grizzlies 11-game home winning streak by topping them in OT. Since that game on January 30, DC has been averaging 23 points and almost 11 assists per 48. Not far off of Paul’s 25 and 13 before his injury.
For New Orleans, having an asset like Collison isn’t about the numbers; it’s about the leadership he provides. He’s carrying the flag right now and it may be rubbing off on fellow rookie and teammate Marcus Thornton as well. So being a team that sits on the brink of the eighth seed in the western conference without it’s star guard, Collison will have to stay consistent to keep the Hornets in view of the post-season.
What I find interesting is, with the buzz about other rookie guards like Tyreke Evans, Brandon Jennings and Stephen Curry, when will Collison be included among the rest? He is the only other rookie besides Stephen Curry to record a triple-double so far this season, and he’s only played a handful of games. Granted he keeps up his 20/10 play, Collison should jostle his way into ROY talk. Taking care of the ball is an issue for him much like fellow rookie Evans, a projected ROY. Other than that, he’s a pure shooter and distributor with quickness that could remove your shoes. He’s pretty fearless when he plays too. Creates his own shots off the dribble and he’s not hesitant to take em’.
This far into the season it’s tough to identify a player who burst on the scene so unexpectedly like Collison has. It’s a nice surprise that’s on its way to becoming one of the feel-good stories in the ‘09-10 season. Collison plays similar to Jamal Crawford. Maybe not as flashy, but a similar style and build (he’s 6-foot nothing, 160 pounds). You can even spot some flashes of Aaron Brooks. But that’s just my thoughts. What do you think?
Regardless of how you distinguish him from the rest, Darren Collison holds the future of the Hornets in his hands. Throughout their next 20 games, 15 of them are against teams with a winning record. Their March schedule is a tall test that will either see the Hornets crumble out of playoff contention or do the unexpected and secure a seed in April. Whatever the outcome, New Orleans is benefitting greatly with Collison at the helm. All hail the NOLA messiah.