(WTLC begins its final preparation for the regular season with our annual player profile previews. Each player gets a dual analysis as well as a grade of our expectations for each. See the grading scale at the bottom.)
|Year in NBA||10|
|2012-13 Stats||5.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.5 AST, 0.5 ST, 0.6 BLK, 0.9 TO|
|Past Accolades||2003 NABC Player of the Year, 1st team All-American, Big 12 Player of the Year|
|Injury History||None current, just getting old|
|Contract Status||Scheduled to make $2.6mm this year, $2.2 the next, making Nick one of the best bargains in the NBA.|
You have to love a guy who does all of the right things on the court, and that's Nick Collison. On the box score, he might seem dismissible or even a liability (even his per-36s are pretty underwhelming), but he's a classic "little things/intangibles" guy. He'll go after every loose ball, set outstanding screens and play solid paint defense while making the right pass and hitting the occasional midrange jumper.
Collison will probably be asked to reprise a similar role to last season, as the first big off of the bench (and the only proven one). Lineups with him in them generally performed well over lineups without him because of all the things he does well and the general lack of mistakes he makes.
Even though he's 33, Collison hasn't faltered much over the past few seasons and he should be good to go for this season as well. Not much of his game is dependent on outstanding athleticism, and in fact, Scott Brooks may choose to use him more in small ball lineups where Kendrick Perkins is a liability. Of course, it might be the opposite with Steven Adams being brought along as well.
Whatever's asked of Collison, he should be able to manage it with no problems. He'll keep chugging along as he always does, and having a Swiss army knife like him on the bench is invaluable for Scott Brooks.
Every year that I've watched the Thunder play (starting circa 2009), we've known exactly what we're going to get from Nick Collison. We will get smart play on both offense and defense, Collison will draw lots of charges, he will make one or two slick passes a game that make us snap our heads to attention, and he will consistently knock down open jumpers. He has been doing this type of thing forever and there is little reason to suspect that he will experience any significant dropoff this season, barring injury.
My question regarding Nick is, can we get more?
To my trained eye, it seems like every preseason and in the first handful of regular season games, the Thunder appear committed to making Collison a bigger part of the offense. They let him post up, they give him more opportunities on the perimeter, set him up in high-low sets, and it is glorious. Also, by the time January rolls around, it is pretty much gone.
Nick is a slower, less athletic version of Serge Ibaka, but he can still run these types of plays that Ibaka does so well and knock down the same kinds of jumpers with regularity. Collison also rolls to the rim better than Ibaka does, which gives the offense an added dimension. Furthermore, with the Thunder bench looking a bit wobbly in the early going this year, I think the team could use some of that Collison magic to help keep things afloat.
I maintain that the Thunder should treat these first two months of the season as a test lab. They might go .500 with Russell Westbrook on the sidelines, but I don't think that will preclude them from falling too far out of the top echelon of teams in the West. Instead, I'd love to see them use this time in a lower stress environment when the rest of the league expects them to play sub-par (for them) and really try to stretch and mold the bench and secondary players. Collison is the perfect guy to be the central hub in this type of endeavor because he knows everything inside and out.
I want to see Collison as the veteran guy the bench looks to as they learn how to play competitively. Can you see Collison running high-low sets with Perry Jones III? Can you see him setting up tight curl patterns with Jeremy Lamb? Can you see him running pick and rolls over and over again with Reggie Jackson, springing Jackson for layups and free throw jumpers?
I just hope that we see it past the month of January.
Also, this is the greatest mix tape ever.
|A||Player has exceedingly high expectations attainable only if they play to their fullest ability.|
|B||Player has reasonably high expectations that are attainable.|
||Player has moderate expectations which should be met with little trouble.|
||Player has moderate expectations but will struggle to meet them.|
||Player should not be on the Thunder roster.|