photo courtesy of nba.com
A Los Angeles Times article on Darren and the Hornets' visit to Los Angeles earlier in the month.
This season, the rookie point guard has played in 19 of 23 games for New Orleans, starting in 8 of those 19 games. DC is having a stellar start in the pros. The numbers don't lie (stats courtesy of nba.com):
1 steal pg
30.4% 3 pt-FG%
+9.26 nba.com efficiency rating (whatever that means)
Hornets' Darren Collison takes advantage of opportunity
The former UCLA guard is starting for New Orleans because All-Star Chris Paul is injured.
By Broderick Turner
The Los Angeles Times
December 3, 2009
When Byron Scott was the coach of the New Orleans Hornets, Darren Collison never started and his playing time was limited.
Of course, Collison was playing behind All-Star point guard Chris Paul too.
Then Scott was fired nine games ago and Paul went down because of a sprained left ankle one game after that, opening the door for Collison to become the starter.
However the coincidence worked out, Collison, a former UCLA star, has taken advantage of his opportunity.
He started his eighth game of the season Tuesday night against the Lakers at Staples Center.
"It's been mixed emotions," Collison said. "I really wanted to play, to get out there on the court and showcase my talent. But now I have an opportunity to do so. It's been fun playing with the other guys."
Collison said he somewhat understood why Scott didn't play him much.
After all, Collison is a rookie and he was playing behind Paul, Scott's favorite.
"With Byron Scott, it was more of a process, so he was going to ease us [rookies] in," Collison said. "But when he got fired, Chris Paul got hurt as well, so I got a chance to play a lot of significant minutes out there."
Against the Lakers, Collison played 33 minutes 48 seconds.
He scored 20 points and handed out five assists.
When asked about his impression of Collison, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said he was "quick."
That was evident Tuesday night, when Collison frequently darted around the Lakers' guards.
Jackson said they were surprised that Collison became the starter because Bobby Brown, who attended Cal State Fullerton, was the backup guard behind Paul.
But Jackson noted that New Orleans Coach Jeff Bower, who took over for the fired Scott, is also the team's general manager and was the one who drafted Collison with the 21st pick in the draft from UCLA.
"He did draft Collison and this is obviously a good opportunity to give him a chance to look at [Collison]," Jackson said. "Starters' minutes sometimes are a little easier than bench minutes. He has performed very well with the opportunity that he's got."
Paul has become a mentor for Collison, showing him how to lead a team, how to facilitate the offense, how to take charge, how to be a professional.
"I learned just how to manage the tempo," Collison said. "I learned how to go out there and get everybody involved, just being that point guard that everybody wants, giving the team the opportunity to win every game."
Even though the Hornets lost to the Lakers, it was a good return home for Collison, who attended Etiwanda High before he went to UCLA, where he went to the Final Four three times during his four-year career.
"It's always cool to come back and play at home," Collison said. "You don't always get that opportunity all the time. But everybody has seen what I've done at UCLA, a great tradition around here in L.A. Everybody is always looking for the old guys to come back and perform really well."
Finally, a video of Darren's shenanigans against fellow rookie sensation Brandon Jennings and the Milwaukee Bucks back in November. Buck Luc Richard Mbah a Moute sat this one out with an injury. DC scores 18 points in this one.