Kevin Pelton, SUPERSONICS.COM
| December 7, 2006
Three games in, Seattle SuperSonics Coach Bob Hill
's move to start Nick Collison
at center looks like a success. Highlighted by his career-high 21 points on Friday against Indiana, Collison has averaged 13.3 points and 7.3 rebounds in his three starts, shooting 17-28 (60.7%) from the field. Given Collison's poor shooting start - he shot 37.6% as a reserve and had no three-game stretch better than 50% shooting - his performance the last three games has been a big upgrade.
"I think it was inevitable," Collison, a 53% shooter in his first two seasons, said after Tuesday's practice. "I think I was just missing a lot of chippies, easy shots, and I knew they were going to fall. I was maybe pressing a little bit for a while and rushing things. Other than that, I just had to keep playing and get out of that. It's only been three decent games, but I feel like it's going to continue."
"The Indiana game was one of those games where the game gave me a lot of opportunities and it came easy that one game. From then on, I've felt better."
Collison felt Friday's game was a turning point. He had six points in the first six minutes, including a pair of free throws and a putback layup.
"The Indiana game was great for me because I got a lot of easy looks early and finished those and hit a couple of free throws early," said Collison. "It was one of those games where the game gave me a lot of opportunities and it came easy that one game. From then on, I've felt better. I've had a little more confidence and it's helped."
At some point, Collison was likely to snap out of his shooting slump. At the same time, he has been more effective in a starting position. A year ago, Collison shot 53.8% in 27 starts as compared to 51.8% as a reserve. Because Collison plays a complementary game, working well in the pick-and-roll and flowing to open spots on the floor, he is well-equipped to take advantage of playing with talented teammates.
"Playing with those guys, there is a lot more open area," Collison said. "Chris (Wilcox) and I are learning how to attack those seams a little better. That probably has a lot to do with it - getting easier looks. Maybe not having another guy coming over to help, trying to block that shot makes it a lot easier to finish around the basket."
The big concern with starting Collison, from Hill's perspective, was the fear of early foul trouble. While it hasn't been a huge issue, Collison has picked up two fouls in the first quarter of all three games he's started. He was eventually able to stay on the court for 32 minutes against Indiana and a season-high 36 Tuesday against Atlanta, when he committed just three fouls.
"I try to be (conscious of foul trouble), but I've still gotten two quick ones in all the games I've started," said Collison. "I think they do call it a little tighter. There's also an aspect of teams try to go inside early, but then again in the Atlanta game I got two trying to rebound. Some fouls, like if you're reaching in, that's kind of a dumb foul and one you can try to avoid, but if you're trying to rebound and they call you for over the back, there's not a lot you can do. I try my best to keep my hands out of the way. Other than that, just play."
The Sonics took advantage of consecutive days off to scrimmage Thursday.
Hill on the Friday's opponent (7:30 p.m., , FSN, KTTH 770 AM), the Hornets, who are playing without starting forwards Peja Stojakovic and David West, as well as reserve guard Bobby Jackson:
"I think without a lot of guys, they're playing pretty good. I watched Chicago (tape) this morning, and Chicago beat them down there (last Friday), but they went into L.A. and won last night. Chris Paul is a great young point guard."