Darren Collison 2019 Season Review

Point guard Darren Collison reflected on his 2018-19 season. The veteran talked about the fight of this year's team and how he's approaching the offseason.

Darren Collison 2019 Season Review

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Darren Collison 2019 Season Review

Point guard Darren Collison reflected on his 2018-19 season. The veteran talked about the fight of this year's team and how he's approaching the offseason.
May 8, 2019  |  04:01

Darren Collison 2018-19 Season Highlights

Check out some of the top plays from Darren Collison's 2018-19 season.
May 8, 2019  |  01:00

Player Review 2019: Darren Collison

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

Age: 31
Years Pro: 10
Status: Free agent
Key Stats: Started all 76 games in which he played. Averaged 11.2 points and a career-high six assists while playing 28.2 minutes per game. Hit 47 percent of his field goal attempts and 41 percent of his 3-point shots.

Darren Collison has always been that point guard who needs to be evaluated beyond the eye test to be fairly appreciated. He tends not to dominate a game or make a play that can be found on a highlight reel, but he tends to contribute to winning.

In fact, he did that better than anyone on the Pacers' roster not named Domantas Sabonis last season, according to the "win share" statistic adjusted for playing time. His shooting percentages, low turnover rate, and respectable defense made that happen, just as the previous season when he was the clear-cut leader in that category over all Pacers, including Victor Oladipo.

It doesn't take an advanced analytic to see the challenge facing Collison now, though. He turns 32 in August. As a 6-foot point guard who relies on quickness rather than size, it might not be easy for him to attract a bidder in free agency for a starting position, particularly one representing a winning team. He certainly seems capable of filling a role for someone, though, either as a short-term starter or veteran backup who can mentor a younger player.

PHOTO GALLERY: Darren Collison's 2018-19 Season in Photos »

One could argue that's exactly what the Pacers need to hasten the progress of Aaron Holiday, whose promising rookie season appears to have assured a promotion from his No. 3 point guard role last season. Most likely, the winds and whims of the free agent marketplace will determine the approach the Pacers' front office takes to hiring a starter for next season.

Collison experienced a statistical drop-off from the previous season, when he became the second player in NBA history to lead the league in both 3-point percentage and assist-to-turnover ratio. But the drop-off wasn't severe, and partially reflected the role and performance of the players around him. He shot better than 40 percent from 3-point range (.407) for the fourth consecutive season, including two with Sacramento, and finished seventh in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.67).

With playing time factored in, he also had the best season of his 10 related to rebounds, steals and assists. That kind of thing tended to go unnoticed, though, because in nearly every game someone else was scoring more or producing more drama. His personal highlights were relatively few. He scored 20 or more points seven times. He hit the game-winning shot at Chicago on Nov. 2, had 10 points, 17 assists, and three turnovers in the homecourt win over Washington on Dec. 10 and had 24 points and nine assists in the homecourt loss to Orlando on March 30.

Darren Collison

Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images

He also had eight points and 11 assists without a turnover in the victory at Utah on Nov. 26, and that's a more telling and typical highlight for him. That game marked the second time he's had 10 or more assists without a turnover as a Pacer, something only seven other players in franchise history have done. Cory Joseph joined the group later in the season, and they were preceded by Mark Jackson (eight times), Vern Fleming (five), Jamaal Tinsley (four), Travis Best (two), Pooh Richardson (two), and Jerry Sichting (two).

While Collison might not be the dynamic point guard who puts a team on his back or grabs it by the scruff of its collective neck and jerks it forward with barked commands, his soft-spoken, ego-free manner has its advantages. That was particularly true when he was paired with Oladipo. Collison didn't flinch when Oladipo was given run of the offense, essentially shifting to an off-guard role on the perimeter while Oladipo tried to take his defender off the dribble.

Collison also was aware of Oladipo's internal struggle to adapt to accepting a lesser role in the offense this past season. When it became clear the Pacers were better when Oladipo dialed down his shot volume, Collison was the one who continuously and pointedly referred to Oladipo as "our best player Vic" in media interviews to soothe his backcourt partner's bruised pride.

That, too, was telling, because Collison probably sacrificed more than anyone to help Oladipo shine. In the 34 games he played with Oladipo, excluding the two in which Oladipo was injured, Collison averaged 9.4 points and 4.9 assists. In the 40 games he played without Oladipo, he averaged 12.6 points and 7 assists with an improved turnover ratio.

Collison appears to be at a career crossroad, as usually happens for 32-year-old free agent point guards. The Pacers might be able to find a better one than him for next season, but it likely won't be easy. Or inexpensive. And not bring a significant change to team chemistry.


Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Pacers.com? Email him at askmontieth@gmail.com and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

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