Kings point guard Darren Collison hears a lot of voices.
There’s a recurring theme: Be aggressive.
Collison has been lately.
“We’ve been talking to him; the coaches have been talking to him,” DeMarcus Cousins said. “We told him that’s what we need. We need the aggressive D.C.”
Of course, it’s easy to be aggressive when confidence is high. In 14 games in January, Collison is averaging 15.3 points on 54.7 percent shooting (49.0 percent from 3-point range).
The Kings have won three of their past four games, and Collison is averaging 19.5 points over that span.
“Coach (Dave Joerger) has talked to me – he’s told me to be a little more aggressive,” Collison said. “The coaching staff has told me to be a little more aggressive, and I’m telling myself to be a little more aggressive, and it’s starting to pay off.”
Collison struggled at times in Joerger’s offense, which is more structured than George Karl’s wide-open style last season.
Ty Lawson played the entire fourth quarter in wins, even though Collison remained a starter.
“I think he’s been in a funk where he’s been thinking a lot, trying to make the right play instead of just making the play,” Cousins said. “When he’s aggressive, we’re a better team.”
As the season has progressed, Collison has learned his role on offense. It has come at a good time for the Kings, who need more scoring with small forward Rudy Gay out for the season because of a ruptured Achilles’ tendon.
But replacing Gay’s scoring hasn’t been Collison’s motivation.
“You can’t fill Rudy’s void,” Collison said. “He’s a natural scorer. My job is to be naturally aggressive for my teammates. The more I get myself involved and get into the paint, whatever happens, whatever it takes for us to win, I’m going to do.”
Guard Garrett Temple said Collison attacking on offense fits the starting lineup since Gay’s injury. Temple noted he’s a complementary player, and Arron Afflalo has gotten more comfortable playing off Cousins as an outside shooter. Kosta Koufos has also found his niche scoring around the rim.
“ (Collison) is a scoring PG,” Temple said. “ … Darren being aggressive offensively, that’s fine for us. We understand that’s his nature; he’s going to be that type of guy.”
Though Collison has had his struggles, his statistics aren’t far off from last season. He’s shooting 48.1 percent overall (48.6 percent last season) and 41.6 percent from 3-point range (career-high 40.1 percent last season).
Collison is averaging 13.1 points, down from 14.0 last season.His career high is 16.1 points in 45 games (all starts) in 2014-15, his first season with the Kings.
Playing with Cousins and Koufos in the lineup together was tough for Collison. And when Gay was healthy, that put four players who excel at one-on-one play in the lineup, making it tough for everyone to find their spots and Collison the third or fourth option on offense.
“I think by now we’re starting to be a little more accustomed to (Joerger’s) system,” Collison said. “In the beginning of the (season), the first couple of months, it takes an adjustment period to get comfortable, but I think by now guys are starting to understand the plays, starting understand where to be at all times, and it’s paying off.”
And if Collison needs any reminders of how to play, plenty of voices will to urge him to attack.