Everyone knows what to expect from Nick Collison when he steps on the floor. He’s not a flashy guy, he’s not a dominant scorer, and he has below average athleticism. But he does the little things right. Collison is a tremendous post defender and a decent rebounder. In addition to that, Collison is one of the best in the league at taking charges.
Collison’s two man game with James Harden this year was the best weapon that the second unit had to offer. Collison’s style fits perfectly with Harden, as both guys play an “old man’s game”. In other words, they understand the importance of timing and spacing on the floor, which allowed them to flourish in the half-court offense.
Another aspect of Collison’s game that was huge for the Thunder was his improvement on his long range jump shot. From 16-23 feet, Collison shot 53 percent, an enormous performance over his career average. While Collison’s points per game took a huge hit this season from his career average, his shooting percentage actually went up, as he shot 59.7 percent this season. In the playoffs, he was even better. After struggling from the floor against Dallas, Collison went on to shoot 75 percent against the Lakers and 70 percent against the Spurs. And if you remember, Collison played a huge role in the Game 4 win against San Antonio, going 4-for-5 from the field for 8 points.
Yet another thing about Nick Collison; you can always count on his plus minus rating being off the charts. Collison was ranked 25th in the league this year. Twenty-fifth! He was +267 in just over 1300 minutes played this season. Of anyone in the top 30 on that list, Collison played fewer minutes than anyone else.
Collison is also widely known around the league as one of the best at drawing charges. He was back at it again this season, averaging nearly a charge drawn every two games. This is an oft forgotten about, yet invaluable, statistic that the seventh year forward seems to have mastered.
Collison’s leadership abilities can’t be overlooked, either. As previously stated, this past season was Collison’s seventh in the league, so the strides he has taken as a silent leader have been expected and welcomed. Such skills come in handy on a team that boasts four players under the age of 24 as its most talented.
Part of writing these post season grades means that I have to highlight a player’s strengths and weaknesses. Looking at Collison, his strengths are obvious. Taking charges, mid-range jump shot, and just doing the little things right; that’s Nick Collison’s game. His weaknesses are much harder to come by. I mentioned earlier his drop in points per game from his career average. He went from 7.1 ppg to a paltry 4.5 ppg this season. But scoring isn’t his role. His rebounding numbers were nothing to write home about either. However, He was a full rebound and a half per game under his career average. As you think about that, realize that Collison also played 3 minutes per game less this season than normal. And you never heard a peep out of him about it. Nick Collison plays his role. He does things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. If he gives you something that you can quantify with a number, consider it a bonus.
Post Season Grade: A
Photo Credits: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE