The Clippers offense is fueled from the point guard position. We all know that starts with one of the best players in the league, Chris Paul. His play during the season was nothing short of productive, rolling out with 19.1 points, 10.7 assists, and 2.8 steals per game. It’s safe to say that his importance is felt in all facets of the game. With major injuries to stars such as Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose, depth is always a concern for a roster. The Clippers has their fair share of time without Paul, after a dislocated shoulder sidelined him for 20 games this season.
Los Angeles’ roster featured three other point guards in Darius Morris, Maalik Wayns, and Darren Collison, who played the bulk of time backing up Paul (25.9 minutes per game). Morris and Wayns were both waived before the season’s end. Collison’s numbers were solid as a reserve, posting 11.4 points and 3.7 assists per game. On top of his steady play, he started in 35 games, appearing in 80 during the season. Clippers coach Doc Rivers even started Collison alongside Paul in several games. His ability to execute in pick and roll, and use his quickness to penetrate, allowed him to push the Clippers’ uptempo style of play. Collins is not a defensive stopper, but his quick hands and energy allowed him to average 1.2 steals per game.
It was Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Oklahoma City Thunder where Collison provided a spirited performance, finishing with 18 points. OKC led by as many as 27 points during the game, holding up a 12-point advantage in the fourth quarter. Collison’s spark ignited his team.
Collison recently decided to forego the final year of his contract to become a free agent. The decision raises many questions in terms of personnel for Los Angeles. The Clippers will be in the market to shore up their point guard position, if Collison stays true to his plan. There will be some options for the Clippers to pursue, and they will need to choose wisely, finding players with a combination of playoff experience and the ability to affect the game on both ends of the court.
Kirk Hinrich, Shaun Livingston, and Devin Harris are a few players that will be available during the 2014 NBA free agency period. Each of these potential targets have veteran presences, playoff experience as starters, and may come with an inexpensive price tag. Los Angeles is over the cap ($912, 813), and will definitely need to seek bargain deals. Hopefully, Collison and the Clippers front office can rekindle talks of his return. He is a prototypical backup for a roster that is looking to contend for a title, in years to come. If things don’t fall through, expect Los Angeles to take interest in some of the available point guard prospects.