It’s about speed.
The Kings want more of it and believe Darren Collison helps provide that to the team.
The Kings officially signed Collison to a three-year, $16 million contract Saturday to take over as the team’s starting point guard on the same day their trade of Isaiah Thomas to Phoenix became official.
Thomas is a more accomplished offensive player, but the Kings believe Collison’s speed and athleticism will allow the team to defend fullcourt more and get out in transition more on offense.
“Darren had a real appeal in terms of pace of play, his speed and his ability to increase our pace of play,” said Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro. “It’s what we talked about as a staff as a goal in the offseason, just to try to be a team that gets up and down the floor a little more quickly.”
The Kings ranked 14th in the NBA in pace at 96.75 possessions per 48 minutes last season. They were tied for 20th in offensive rating at 102.9. Offensive rating is the number of points scored per 100 possessions.
Most of the Kings see themselves as capable offensive players, so speeding up the game would allow them to showcase that more.
Collison comes to the team after playing for one of the league’s most efficient offensive teams, the Los Angeles Clippers, as Chris Paul’s backup.
The Clippers led the NBA in offensive rating (109.4) and were seventh in pace (98.39).
Collison has been a starter before and sees the Kings as a team willing to trust him as a leader after five NBA seasons.
“Sacramento’s giving me the opportunity,” Collison said. “They know exactly what I can do. I’ve just got to go out there and play my game.”
Collison (6-foot, 175 pounds) averaged 11.4 points and 3.7 assists for the Clippers, including 35 starts. He averaged 13.3 points and 6.5 assists over an 18-game stretch while Paul was injured.
Collison had been a starter in Indiana and Dallas. He lost his starting job in Indiana because of injury and the team stayed with George Hill.
Collison was the starter in 2012-13 for Dallas before losing that role to Derek Fisher and Mike James at various points during the season.
“That was more of a coaching decision to put players that I didn’t feel they should be ahead of me, but I use all of that as motivation,” Collison said of the season in Dallas. “Everything that’s happened to me in the past, and now I’m here and I try to use it as motivation.”
Similar to Thomas, Collison still believes he has a lot to prove.
Two players he started ahead of during parts of his time at UCLA, Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday, were both selected higher in the draft than Collison, who went to New Orleans 21st overall in 2009.
There’s also the notion that he’s not a legitimate starter. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle eventually preferred to bring Collison off the bench, a role many in Sacramento believed best suited Thomas.
“The one thing I’ve learned about being in the NBA is it’s not bad being overlooked , it’s not bad being underrated,” Collison said. “It’s not bad being doubted because everyday you have something to prove. That makes your job a lot easier to me.”
Collison will have plenty of chances to prove that with the Kings and win over fans who will miss the popular Thomas.
But the Kings believe parting with Thomas is best for the future.
“This is not about Isaiah,” D’Alessandro said. “It’s about trying to put together a chemistry and a way we can play going forward.”
Now it’s time to see how fast the Kings can go.