Darren Collison is the newest member of the Sacramento Kings. Two days ago, the veteran point guard joined the team on a guaranteed contract for the next three years. But, is he joining the Kings as a starter or as a backup?
Sam Amick of USA Today reported that the 26-year-old guard signed with the understanding that he’d be the Kings’ starting point guard. That’s a bold report considering the Kings still maintain the option of re-signing Isaiah Thomas to a brand new contract. Thomas has yet to choose whether to sign an offer sheet elsewhere, but the Collison signing is sure to impact his decision.
If Collison is the Kings new starting point guard, it’s not uncharted territory for the six-year veteran out of UCLA. In 2009, he began his career with the New Orleans Hornets and filled in admirably for Chris Paul who battled injury in Collison’s first season in the league. In 37 starts for the Hornets, the 26-year-old guard averaged 18.8 points and 9.1 assists in roughly 40 minutes a contest.
His play during his rookie campaign caught the attention of Larry Bird and the Indiana Pacers. Following the season, they made a move to acquire Collison in a four-team deal and he was officially handed the reigns to an up-and-coming Pacers team. In his first season with the Pacers, he started 79 of 82 possible games and averaged 13.2 points and 5.1 assists in 29.9 minutes per contest.
Collison’s play his first year in Indiana was solid, but not enough to inspire long-term faith in his abilities, prompting Bird to make a move after the season to acquire George Hill from the San Antonio Spurs. Despite dealing for Hill, Collison remained the starter for much of the lockout-shortened season. He posted lackluster numbers in 56 starts, averaging just 10.8 points and 4.9 assists in 32 minutes a night.
Collison later lost his starting job with the Pacers entering the 2012 playoffs. A sore groin forced him to miss the tail-end of the regular season and Hill played himself into the first unit, starting all 11 of the Pacers’ playoff games. Following the season, Collison was traded with Dahntay Jones to the Dallas Mavericks for Ian Mahinmi.
The Mavs were in search of a point guard after losing out on the Deron Williams sweepstakes and turned to Collison. However, he started sporadically throughout the season and at one point lost his job in the Mavs’ backcourt to veteran Mike James. He played in 81 of 82 games and started in 47. As a starter, Collison averaged 12.6 points and 5.7 assists per contest in Big D.
Collison left the Mavericks via free agency last summer and joined the Clippers on a two-year deal valued at $3.9 million. After floundering as a starter in his previous two stops, Collison embraced a role once again backing up Paul and playing significant stretches of the season when the All-Star guard missed time due to injury. In 35 starts, Collison averaged 14.8 points and 5.3 assists for the Clippers. After Los Angeles fell to the Thunder in the second round of the 2014 playoffs, the former Bruin opted out of the final year of his contract, clearing the path for his signing in Sacramento.
In five NBA seasons, Collison has started a total of 254 games. As a starting point guard, he’s averaged 13.6 points, 5.8 assists and 2.4 turnovers per contest. If the Kings decide to let Isaiah Thomas walk, is Darren Collison the answer at starting point? There’s enough history to show that he’s not.