Pacers Season Reviews: Darren Collison

Darren Collison of the Indiana Pacers
Darren Collison of the Indiana Pacers /
2 of 4
Darren Collison of the Indiana Pacers
Darren Collison of the Indiana Pacers /

Season in Review

The 2018-19 NBA season didn’t start off well for the veteran point guard. In the months of October and November, Darren Collison was averaging nine points a game, shooting 30.4% from downtown and an abysmal 69% percent from the free throw line.

However, things began to turn around as the month of November came to a close. The Indiana Pacers caretaker dished out eleven assists on consecutive nights in games against Phoenix and Utah. The next week, he had an additional eleven points, twelve rebounds, and six steals in a game against the Sacramento Kings to notch his second double-double of the season. He followed up with a 23 point outing that led in a win against the Chicago Bulls. He had finally hit his stride.

The game against Sacramento highlighted Collison’s playmaking abilities. Despite being a ten-year veteran, he was able to use his quickness to get around screens that often led to a defensive breakdown that allowed for a pass to an open man:

After getting around Turner’s pick, Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein collapsed to prevent an open layup. This allowed Collison to flip the ball out to Turner, who was left with a open look or the option to pass out to Cory Joseph for the open three after Buddy Hield attempted to switch to Turner. It was a sweet play.

Here is another example of the point guard’s craftiness:

Driving into the post off a pick from Domantas Sabonis, Lauri Markkanen begins to shift over to smother any chance of a layup or floater. This allows enough space between Turner and the rim for an easy dunk once Collison realized he had no shot.

The court awareness DC brought was necessary in keeping the offense flowing. His ability to be in the right spot and make the correct plays was relied on, especially without Oladipo on the floor. In this clip, De’Aaron Fox is floating into the post, which leaves DC wide open for a corner three – a shot he converted on 54% of the time this season:

The turn of the calendar year led to a continuation of improved play from Collison. He scored in double figures in seven of nine consecutive games to kick off 2019.

His averages for December and January were 10.6 points and 6.6 assists per game, with an improved 46.3% from behind the arc and 90.5% at the foul stripe. He had broken out of his early-season struggles.

Collison’s strengths became more prominent in the absence of Victor Oladipo, and his presence on the court was necessary. He logged 2143 minutes played this season in 76 games, the most he’d played since the 2014 season. His averages after the Oladipo injury (27 games) were 14.4 points and 6.7 assists, converting on nearly fifty percent of his shot attempts. He stepped up when needed.

Against the Portland Trailblazers in mid-March, Collison took a knee to the thigh courtesy of Damian Lillard that led to a contusion and three games on the bench to recover. He returned to play in three games, and ironically scored a season-high 24 points against the Orlando Magic in his last regular season game. Unfortunately, a minor groin injury sidelined him for the remaining three games of the season. He went out on a high note.

During the Pacers first-round playoff matchup, Collison averaged twelve points and four assists per game, including a 19 point game in the fourth game of the series. Despite scoring in double figures in three of the four games, the shooting performance from DC and the team collectively was poor. His playoff performances will not be remembered as fondly as his regular season.

His season’s story was a tale about normalizing after a rocky start. What stat perfectly defines his season, though?