Catching Up With Kings Guard Darren Collison
SACRAMENTO – He’d already done it once, but it’s still a little strange for Darren Collison to see the Clippers on the schedule.
The Kings’ point guard served as Chris Paul primary backup last year in Los Angeles before agreeing to a three-year deal prior to this season in Sacramento, where Collison has thrived in a new starting role.
“You know the guys, they know you and your game,” Collison said. “You want to stay competitive at the same time, but they know you.”
Averaging six more minutes per game than his career average this year has been a positive for Collison, who had to see his former teammates Saturday night, during which he went 7-for-15 for 17 points while adding four assists and three rebounds.
Collison is averaging 16.5 points, 5.9 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game this season. For his career, he averaged 12.3 points, five assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game.
“It’s been a good opportunity for me,” Collison said. “It’s been night and day.”
J.J. Redick remembered Collison’s season in Los Angeles fondly, during which Collison averaged 11.4 points and 3.7 assists per game. Redick described him as “an absolute warrior” and particularly valuable when injuries occurred.
“He kind of did whatever was asked of him,” Redick said a week ago. “At times, he played the two. At times, he went small. I can remember games where down the stretch he’s guarding threes and battling in the post and getting steals.”
Head coach Doc Rivers said as much as he wishes he could still see Collison helping the Clippers, he’s happy for the Kings’ guard and what he’s been able to accomplish as a starter this year.
Rivers remembers Collison having few suitors prior to his time with the Clippers, but that all changed quickly.
“Now he’s a starting point guard and one of the better ones,” Rivers said. “It’s really nice he got a redo. In Indiana he started, and I don’t know what happened from that point on and he got to us and he resurrected himself. It was him, it wasn’t us. I’m just happy when good guys get working and things work out for them.”
Given his schedule with Sacramento, Collison said he’s so caught up in what he’s doing that it’s tough to watch his old team play.
But in the games he’s watched, he thinks the Clippers are playing faster and getting up and down quicker than they were at the beginning of the season, which was a specialty of Collison’s.
“I think they do miss some speed here and there, but as of late they’re doing a good job attacking and playing an up-tempo style,” Collison said.
Rivers said he still stays in contact with Collison to this day and misses the quickness he brought to the backups. Maybe even more so, he misses the person.
“I just love him,” Rivers said. “He’s a good kid. Forget that he’s a good player, he was just a great guy to have in your locker room, too. We miss that as well. We miss his speed, is what we miss. I’m happy for him.”