Full Name: Nicholas John Collison
Nickname: Mr. Thunder
Years in NBA: 14
Contract Status: UFA
Notable Factoid: The #12 pick of the Seattle Supersonics in the 2003 NBA Rookie draft and one of the few career role players to spend a 10+ year career with one franchise.
Player History: The poster child of what a team-first player should be. As a former NABC Player of the Year (2003), 1st team consensus All American (2003), and Big 12 Player of the Year (2003), and first round selection (2003), Collison didn’t expect to spend the entirety of his 14 year career as a role player, but accepted his role as what was best for the team.
Pre-season Expectations: Signed a one-year, veteran minimum contract just prior to training camp. Collison’s playing time diminished a great deal these past two seasons and saw his in-game role downgraded from back-up center/power forward to emergency bench player. Nick’s primary job was mentoring the younger players and locker room leader.
Most Memorable Game/Moment:
In what may have been Collison’s final impressive moment as an active player, he spelled his Kiwi soul mate, an ailing Steven Adams, and chipped in a solid 7 points on a 3 for 5 shooting performance with 2 rebounds in just 6 1⁄2 minutes. In a season that brought it fans little joy, those Collison minutes in a Thunder win over the San Antonio Spurs may rate as the top feel-good moment for long time OKC fans.
Watching Nick doing his thing against the Spurs, possibly for the last time, was a brief reminder of all that has been good about following the Thunder.
Regular Season Grade: A - Every time a Thunder fan watches Jerami Grant take a charge or Steven Adams effectively defend the pick and roll, we are witnessing Collison’s influence on this team.
Post Season Grade: Incomplete.
Future Expectations: As painful as it is to think about, the time has come for #4 to hang up his playing shoes. The Thunder can no longer afford to tie up a roster spot, even at league minimum. As always, Collison will do what is best for the team and it is this writer’s hope that the Thunder honor Collison’s career by retiring his jersey number and hanging it from the rafters of Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Player Grades Explained:
A- : Exceeded expectations.
In a tumultuous season filled with some highs, but even more lows, not a dissenting word was heard from the Thunder locker room. Collison deserves a great deal of the credit for that.
In fourteen seasons, no Thunder player can say they have sacrificed more for this team.