Darren Collison is 29, an age when athletes can feel they’re entering the prime of their career with the perfect blend of youth and experience.
“It’s definitely true,” said the Kings guard, entering his eighth season. “I’ve played at the two (shooting guard) position and scoring, so it’s definitely helped me in that way. And then I’ve played the point guard my whole entire life, so I can blend it all together.”
Collison has had an impressive preseason, displaying his versatility and trademark speed while unveiling some new wrinkles to his offensive game under first-year coach Dave Joerger. Entering Tuesday’s preseason finale against the Los Angeles Clippers at Golden 1 Center, he was averaging 13.8 points and a team-high 5.0 assists and shooting 65.5 percent.
For the second consecutive offseason, the Kings added a highly regarded point guard to be in the mix with Collison. Last summer, it was Rajon Rondo, This summer, it was Ty Lawson.
Collison has made a strong case to remain the starter after his eight-game suspension.
“I think I have more confidence in my game and how much work I’ve put into my game,” he said. “I’ve always been able to score, and now it’s about putting it all together, being able to score and get everyone else involved.”
The feeling-out process between a new coach and his point guard is always intriguing. The player does his best to quickly implement what is being taught and make sure his teammates are in the right place.
So far, that transition appears to be going well, but it’s still a learning process.
“He’s scoring the ball,” Joerger said when asked about Collison’s solid play. “And we’re trying to get a feel for each other, me for his game and he for what I’m trying to do as far setting the game up and where we go.”
Collison also is eager to reveal the growth in his game. He is shooting a floater to mesh with Joerger’s strategy.
“I’ve always had the floater in my game,” Collison said. “There just was never a reason to use it consistently. Just watching some film from coach Joerger and the point guards he used to deal with in his system, I saw they were using it a lot more and I was wondering why. Because sometimes we play compact a little bit with the two bigs, I think it’s a necessary shot.”
In every preseason game, the Kings started at least two centers before downsizing. Joerger does not plan to play big for the majority of games, but when he does, Collison wanted to make sure he still would be an asset.
Collison also credited Joerger and his teammates for his preseason performance.
“I think coach is doing a good job of putting me in positions and my teammates are helping me out,” he said. “And I’m playing with a lot more experienced players that know what position and place to be in, so it’s a lot easier for the point guard.”
New look – Joerger started Garrett Temple at point guard Tuesday. During Collison’s suspension, Temple will be the primary backup to Lawson.
Early in the preseason, much of Temple’s work at point guard came late in games alongside rookies and inexperienced players.
Sitting out – Forward Matt Barnes (rib) and guard Arron Afflalo (strained glute) did not play Tuesday.