I want you to take a look at a picture I just took on Basketball Reference and tell me what you think it means, and for fun pretend that I didn’t completely gave it away in the headline.
That is Darren Collison‘s right-side-of-the-chart advanced stats for the ten seasons, including the first 15 games of this one (through the Heat game on Nov. 16), of his career.
You see the beautiful symmetry in it?
Collison comes into the league, shows some promise, has a pretty good rookie season where it’s obvious he’s got a lot of potential if he can ever work on his defense. He’s not Tyreke Evans by any stretch (the Rookie of the Year that season in 2009-10), but he starts 37 games in place of the injured Chris Paul and doesn’t completely take a dump on the court or anything.
And he has a nice little prime between 2013 and ’15, playing on three teams in three years (Dallas, the Clippers, and finally in Sacramento) where he is a more than serviceable quality NBA point guard.
Heck, he’s honest-to-gods good on the Clippers, who have…you guessed it, Chris Paul, once again soundly backing up the perpetual All-Star.
And then he goes into what looks like the first year of his decline. He’s in Sacramento in 2016-17, where his age-29 season shows why so many NBA players at the little-man positions hit a wall around age 30. He dips below that Mendoza Line of .100 WS/48 that separates a quality starter from a guy who should be getting bench minutes instead and becomes a big part of the impetus as to why the Kings draft De’Aaron Fox as their point guard of the future.
Cast off, he ends up in Indiana, where the Pacers aren’t supposed to be any good so Collison can be a stopgap solution unt…
…wait a minute, is that Collison leading the league in three-point percentage, posting the best advanced stats of his entire career, and just for absolute giggles shooting 88.2 percent from the free throw line, the best mark of his tenure in the league, all while a team expected to win 30 games wins 48 and comes a bad call from a ref away from the second round of the playoffs and ending the Finals appearance streak of LeBron James?
He even posted an 18.8 PER, setting a high-water mark…at age 30.
I mean, you can kind of venture a guess at this point what happens next, right?
Collison’s PER is down to 12.7, worst of his career. His .082 WS/48 is the worst since he was a rookie. His defense is decent, around league average, but he’s posting a negative Offensive Box Plus/Minus for the first time in his career.
And it’s only that surprisingly-good defense keeping his VORP from entering the Carmelo Anthony Zone.
And lo and behold, the Pacers have a minus-1.6 Net Rating with Collison on the floor, while they’re plus-11.9 without him. And that’s not all Cory Joseph‘s doing. Joseph isn’t that good, and Domantas Sabonis isn’t that much better than Myles Turner that he’d be a rising tide lifting everyone else up when he’s on the floor and Collison isn’t.
From all of this, there is just one conclusion to draw.
Darren Collison sucks, and the sooner the Pacers get him out of there for whatever value they can possibly get for a 31-year-old point guard they probably should’ve sold high on in the offseason, the better.
There are few cases in basketball where you can point at a guy and say “this guy’s awful.”
But Collison’s played 410 minutes. That’s not a big sample size. But it’s big enough to draw conclusions.
Trade DC, Indiana. What you do with the starting lineup, whether it’s promoting CoJo and giving Aaron Holiday some run with the second unit or whether it’s letting Victor Oladipo play point guard and playing a bigger lineup with Sabonis and Myles Turner while elevating Kyle O’Quinn‘s minutes, or whatever voodoo you can think of out there, Collison has been absolutely atrocious and every minute he plays is an advantage for the other team.