Why Collison Can Give Rajon Rondo a Run for Starting Spot


The Sacramento Kings will have an array of fresh faces when the 2015-16 season kicks off in a few months and with new players, comes new competitions. This brings the challenges of competing for a roster spot, for some, and a starting spot for others. One of the key head-to-head match ups when camp gets under way will be that of last season’s starting point guard, Darren Collison, and newcomer, Rajon Rondo.

Collison, who started in all 45 games he played in for Sacramento, missed the last two months of the 2014-15 season with a hip-flexor injury which required surgery but is on schedule for the beginning of the upcoming season.
Collison was a catalyst for the Kings when on the court, averaging 16 points and almost six assists per-36 minutes. But, an even bigger stat is how well the starting five of Collison, Ben McLemore, Rudy Gay, Jason Thompson (no longer with the Kings), and DeMarcus Cousins played when on the floor together.

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According to NBA.com, out of the five-man rotations who played 400 minutes or more together, the Kings had the fourth highest Net rating (16.4), which was only behind the Golden State Warriors (Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson), Cleveland Cavaliers (Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Timofey Mozgov and J.R. Smith) and Los Angeles Clippers (Matt Barnes, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Chris Paul and J.J. Redick ).

But, newcomer, Rajon Rondo, boasts the All-Star appearances, the ring, and the salary (more than $9 million for his one-year deal compared to Collison’s $5 million a year) could potentially be reason enough to give Rondo a step.

But, is that fair? Should last-season’s hell of a season for Rondo just be thrown out the window and forgotten about?
Certainly, opinions would vary, and some stats still lean in Rondo’s favor, but Collison’s +2 Net rating, compared to Rondo’s -10, is proof that the Kings shouldn’t just hand Rondo the key to the city.

The position should be up for grabs, like every other position aside from center, of course. If Collison can keep control of the offense as he did last season when healthy, the job should be his to lose.

Collison (.473%) also shot incredibly better than Rondo (.426%) last season. The Kings will have some thinking to do and who George Karl decides to go with would hopefully come down to on-court performance rather than salaries and past accomplishments.

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Some writers have noted, and quoted Karl verbatim, that Karl could go with multiple point guards for certain lineups, something he’s been known to do, and while that’s a possibility it wouldn’t be in effect for the starting tip most-likely. The Kings will be looking to push the pace and both Rondo and Collison have shown they are able to do just that.

Another question mark will be whether or not the Kings go big with Willie Cauley-Stein in the starting rotation or if they try to run a smaller, more offensive-focused lineup with perhaps Marco Belinelli along with Gay in the front court.

If Cauley-Stein is in the starting lineup when the season begins, Collison would be a better fit with his ability to knock down outside jumpers better than Rondo. Last season, Collison had a far superior percentage from 10-16 feet out (.475% to .385% per Basketball Reference), but over the course of their careers, Collison has a slightly smaller edge (.427% to .390% per BR).

The Kings may have their centerpiece in Cousins, but the ball still comes down the court in the hand of the point guard. Let the competition begin.

Next: Sacramento Kings Continue Offseason Overhaul with Three More Signings