How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Collison

Lots of haterade being drunk in re: this Darren Collison fellow ("9th best PG", etc).

You know what? It was a great pick. This really isn't spin or anything. Last thing I'm going to do is spin the Hornets' front office after the disaster that was Summer 2008.

First, consider the options. It was down to DeJuan Blair or a point guard. Marcus Thornton wasn't in the equation at 21, because no other teams valued him that high. If the Hornets really wanted him that high, they'd have traded down and gotten a 2nd rounder tossed their way. Internally, the front office had made the Blair vs. point guard decision (which turned out to be the right call, as Thornton hung around till 43).

Let's start with Blair. I was super high on him. His rebound rates were mind-boggling, he'd dominated a 7 footer in Thabeet before, and he had apparently gotten into terrific shape. When the decision was made to pass him over, I was startled. Blair filled our biggest need, and some statistics indicated he might be the second best big in the entire draft. How could you possible pass on that? I was not a happy camper.

Then Portland- widely rumored to have traded up to get him- passed on him. Sacramento passed on him. Dallas passed on him. Oklahoma City passed on him. Chicago- widely rumored to be drafting Blair at 16- passed on him at 26. Even the staunchest advocate of Blair had to have recognized something here. And then ten more teams passed. Fifteen times in all, he was passed over. There's some identified or unidentified issue with Blair that teams are scared of. It might be his knees. It might be the fact that his ACL's are supposedly not visible in MRIs do not exist. It might that people don't think his sudden and huge weight loss is sustainable. It might be that he lived on a mostly junk food diet for most of his college career. Sure, the Spurs wound up taking him. They've been absolute geniuses at drafting. But this smells more of "he couldn't have dropped any lower" than it does of the Spurs knowing something nobody else does. The Hornets came to the same conclusion that more than half the NBA did. This includes teams that worked him out multiple times, with enough scrutiny to considering drafting him in the lottery. I trust in that collective wisdom.

Second, let me address the "8th or 9th best point guard" deal. Collison was absolutely not the 8th or 9th best point guard in this draft. He was the 8th or 9th most hyped point guard in this draft. Huge, huge difference. For two straight years, he'd lost his buzz to more famous backcourt mates at UCLA- Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday.

Comparison time.

Player A: 49% eFG, 27% threes, 31% FT/pos, 53% true shooting, 23% ast/pos, 21% TO/pos
Player B: 57% eFG, 40% threes, 29% FT/pos, 62% true shooting, 38% ast/pos, 20% TO/pos

Who ya got?

Player A is Tyreke Evans, the first point guard taken in The Draft of the Point Guard. Player B is Darren Collison, the last point guard of the first round taken in the Draft of the Point Guard.

How about the next non-Rubio (total wild card) point guard off the board?

Jonny Flynn: 52% eFG, 32% threes, 37% FT/pos, 57% true shooting, 41% Ast/pos, 21% TO/pos
D. Collison : 57% eFG, 40% threes, 29% FT/pos, 62% true shooting, 38% ast/pos, 20% TO/pos

Looks pretty even to me. Here are all the non-Euro points (Jennings, Rubio) taken in round 1:

Player eFG 3P FT/pos TS Ast/pos TO/pos
Tyreke Evans 49% 27% 31% 53% 23% 21%
Jrue Holiday 50% 31% 20% 53% 42% 25%
Eric Maynor 52% 36% 37% 58% 32% 16%
Ty Lawson 61% 47% 47% 66% 51% 15%
Jeff Teague 55% 44% 43% 62% 22% 20%
Jonny Flynn 51% 32% 37% 57% 41% 21%
Darren Collison 57% 40% 29% 62% 38% 20%

 

Ty Lawson is clearly not human, but everyone else is more or less on even footing. There are non-statistical components to drafting. Absolutely there are. Collison is a college senior, a category of player that empirically does not do well in the NBA. Flynn, Evans, and especially Holiday are absolutely teeming with upside while Collison has almost no upside. But can anyone definitively say Collison is not a top 5 point in this draft, filled with so many excellent ones? Absolutely not.

Darren Collison was a very good point guard in college for four years. He may be more guaranteed to spell Chris Paul for 12-15 minutes than anyone else in this draft.

Two giant cherries on top of this cake. One, this guarantees Jannero Pargo will not be returning. The second is even more important. This allows New Orleans the freedom to trade Antonio Daniels at any point during the season. Not only that, it provides them with a great amount of leverage they wouldn't have had otherwise. Daniels' 6 million expiring contract is one of the Hornets' biggest trade chips. The drafting of Darren Collison will allow them to maximize its usage.

I love Collison already. So should you.

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