Player Name: Nicholas Collison
Nickname: Hair Jordan
Contract Status: Collison is entering the final year of his two-year, $7.5 million contract signed during the 2014-15 season. He may return on a veteran minimum sort of contract beyond next season, but considering his diminishing role on the floor, that remains to be seen.
Fun Factoid: Collison was the NCAA Player of the Year in 2003, forming a dynamic duo with Kirk Hinrich. Weird to imagine, I know.
Regular Season Grade: B-
It's hard to grade Collison because his role is very different to the other players. He's no longer one of the NBA's leading role players that he was a couple of seasons ago, but he can still fill a need when called upon. There was stretches when he warmed the bench without playing anything but garbage time, it must have very tough for such a competitive guy like Collison is to know that his primary role doesn't involve time on the court.
Box scores have never mattered to Collison his entire career, and they've never been the greatest marker of his impact. Plus-Minus has always been the indicator of his intangible impact. The +22 in just 18 minutes against Utah. The +11 in the 8 point win over Milwaukee. The +9 in a tough 3 point road win over the Timberwolves.
The reality is, Collison rarely played more than 12 or so minutes when he got serious time, and his role now is more as a mentor and celebrating bench warmer above all else. That's got to be a tough adjustment, but whenever he was called upon he was a professional. Always doing the little things, as always.
Post Season Grade: C+
It's also hard to judge Collison's post season. He played a small role in the Dallas series, and was key in the game 4 road win over the Mavericks where his defense was a key, and the Thunder were +14 with him on the floor in just 11 minutes. After that he played 18 minutes in the game 1 blowout loss to the Spurs.
However he barely featured the rest of the postseason, not part of the bigs who beat up the Spurs inside, and his lack of athleticism meant he was mostly unplayable against the Warriors.
There aren't really many when it comes to the grizzled veteran with the perfect hair. Now the question comes as to whether this is his last ride as a player, with a view to perhaps move into coaching. His defensive know how could be important on and off the court to the likes of Enes Kanter, Steven Adams, Domantas Sabonis and Mitch McGary.
Until he calls it quits, he'll just keep doing the grunt work as he always has. That's why he is so loved by the Thunder faithful.