Kings Embrace Fluid Offensive Approach
With the Kings newest addition at point guard, the Sacramento Kings will highlight an up-tempo style of offense.
Sitting next to members of Sacramento’s front office in Las Vegas, Darren Collison put ink to paper early last month as he signed his signature on a multi-year deal to join the Kings.
General Manager Pete D’Alessandro welcomed the newest member of the team, projecting a bright future for him in Sacramento.
Through an arrangement of trades, the NBA Draft and a litany of coaching reinforcements, D’Alessandro and the Kings have accentuated some of the nuances Collison can bring to the team this offseason.
“Adding Darren provides veteran leadership in our backcourt,” said the second-year GM. “His speed and quickness will undoubtedly increase our pace and he plays sound defense every night.”
Evident throughout Summer League play, the purple and black have highlighted the importance of ball movement – making it an offensive cornerstone.
“I don’t want anyone catching and holding the basketball,” said Kings Head Coach Michael Malone. “If you don’t have a shot right away, look to make a play for your teammate. That’s something we’ve been repeating over and over, is make a play for your teammate.”
Sacramento’s second-year head coach emphasized a full-court offensive attack this offseason. Now, he’s counting on Collison and the rest of the Kings backcourt to help create more fluid offensive play.
“It’s what we talked about as a staff as a goal in the offseason, just to try to be a team that gets up and down the floor a little more quickly,” added D’Alessandro.
This need for speed is one aspect the Kings newest point guard can relate to.
“Everybody knows that I like to get up and down [the court] and that I’m fast and quick with the ball,” admitted Collison. “I think it’s easier to play that way. When you do have to slow it up, I can do that too, but I think this team will like to play fast. Rudy and Ben, with both of them being so athletic, they will like to play like that along with some of the other young guys.”
Last season in Los Angeles when starter Chris Paul went down with an injury for 18 games, the 6-foot point guard averaged 6.5 assists per game and led his team to a 12-6 record.
“Of course, you could talk about my game itself – as far as quickness and playing defense,” said the UCLA grad. “But I think overall, it’s the other characteristics – the little nuances – the intangibles as far as being a leader, being vocal and just trying to be an extension of the coach [on the floor]. I think that’s what’s going to help us.”
Collison has been fortunate early in his career, benefiting from a mentorship with a perennial All-Star like Paul – with one stint coming in New Orleans and the other, last season in Los Angeles.
That was one reason Clippers coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers made it known that the Rancho Cucamonga, California native was the team’s No. 1 offseason priority.
"You know our first guy [we would like to sign], I'll be honest, is one of our guys that opted out," Rivers told the Los Angeles Times without specifically mentioning Collison’s name.
The 175-pound backcourt speedster left LA to test the market, but he was quickly snatched up by Sacramento. As soon as free agency began on June 30, the Kings front office was on the attack – contacting their new signee at 12:01 EDT.
“That meant a lot to me,” admitted the sixth-year pro. “It shows that a team is really trying to work with me. They were real aggressive, they told me their future, they told me their plans and I just like every part of their vision. I think they have a really bright future and I think we can do something special.”
When determining his fit within the current Kings roster, a return to the playoffs was at the top of Collison’s list.
The 26-year old has a desire to earn a another postseason berth thanks to three playoff appearances over the last four years. But his most memorable moment came last season.
Collison helped his team overcome a 22-point deficit against Oklahoma City in game two of the 2014 NBA Playoffs as he scored 18 points – 12 of which came in the fourth quarter – in a 101-99 win over the Thunder. Despite ultimately losing the second-round series, those types of moments have paid dividends for the young guard.
“Last year, I got a chance to play for a team that [was] contending for a championship,” he said. “Hopefully, that experience can rub off on this year’s team.
“We have a relatively young team and there’s still going to be a lot to learn – there are going to be some road blocks and it’s not going to be easy where we want to go, but I’m excited to take on that role. I think a lot of players at my age tend to shy away from the rebuilding process because they want to win now. I think this team is not only young, but they have the talent to win now.”
Much like many of his current teammates, Collison made an appearance at the team’s mini-camp in Las Vegas to gain insight into his future endeavors and cultivate chemistry with his new peers.
“I was watching a lot of our games during the summer – we have a lot of guys who shoot the ball extremely well,” he stated. “They’re young, but they have the ability to make my job easy as a point guard.”
With training camp on the horizon, the Kings front office is counting on its veterans to continue to establish the team’s chemistry. Part of that responsibility falls on Collison’s shoulders.
“Even though I am going to embrace that role, I still have to prove that I can be a leader,” he concluded. “I’m not going to force any of these guys to listen to me – that’s something you have to earn.”