Darren Collison Brings What the Sacramento Kings Need


It’s difficult to watch Isaiah Thomas on the Phoenix Suns and not wonder what if he was the Sacramento Kings point guard instead of Darren Collison.

Thomas is off to a hot start. He is averaging 17.4 points per game with 4.1 assists and has helped the Suns to a 5-3 record. Thomas is also second among qualified point guards in PER, behind only Stephen Curry.

On the contrary, Collison doesn’t have the same offensive output as Thomas, but he’s still pretty good. Collison is averaging a serviceable 15.4 points per game with 6.1 assists. He’s also contributing 1.9 steals per game and isn’t turning the ball over (1.9 turnovers per game).

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It’s easy to see Thomas’ offensive and defensive rating and say, “Thomas is clearly the better player.” It’s probably true. Thomas is far more dynamic than Collison and will likely be the better statistical player when this season comes to a close sometime in 2015. It won’t surprise anyone as well.

Collison, however, is exactly what the Kings need, instead of Thomas.

Thomas is benefiting from getting a solid run as the Suns’ primary scoring option. He is a score-first point guard, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

In Sacramento, Thomas was mired in a situation where his natural role wasn’t going to flourish. He was going to be the Kings’ third option behind DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay, and this was going to hurt the Kings in the long run had Thomas stayed. He would have tried to get his share of the scoring pie without feeding the other two, and chemistry would have been blown.

Collison, on the other hand, isn’t a volume scorer or a shoot-first, pass-later kind of point guard. He scores enough to make a difference, but it isn’t his forte. The Kings don’t need Collison to score 20 for the Kings to be successful. They need him to make sure Cousins, Gay and the rest of the team are put in positions to succeed and do what they do best.

Collison is a better defender than Thomas, evidenced by Collison’s plus-minus rating per 100 possessions, which is significantly higher than Thomas’ at the moment.

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Entering Thursday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Collison is at plus-15, while Thomas owns a plus-5.6 rating. Collison’s career plus-minus per 100 mark is minus-0.1, while Thomas boasts a minus-1.5 for his career, though the sample size for Thomas might be skewed because the Kings weren’t great in his three seasons with the team.

Then’s there’s experience level.

Despite being only 27 years-old, Collison is the veteran presence needed inside of the Kings’ locker room. Along with Ramon Sessions, Collison serves as a mentor to the young Kings, who are looking to make the postseason in quite some time.

Collison is a well-traveled veteran point guard, who has stints in New Orleans, Indiana, Dallas and Los Angeles. He’s served as Chris Paul’s backup on two different occasions and understands what it takes to win in the NBA, after heading to the playoffs three times in his first five NBA seasons.

All of that will pay dividends in helping the young Kings mature moving forward.

So yes, Thomas has started off like a ball of fire for the Suns, but Collison will be the steady, stable force that the Kings need as the season trudges along.