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Dallas Mavericks: Why Darren Collison Is a Major Upgrade over Jason Kidd

ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 08:  Darren Collison #2 of the Indiana Pacers against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on February 8, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Chris HummerAnalyst IAugust 18, 2012

Jason Kidd is one of the best point guards to ever lace up a pair of high tops, but Darren Collison will be an upgrade over him this coming season for the Dallas Mavericks.

The Mavericks acquired Collison this offseason to replace Kidd, who left in free agency to play in Manhattan with the New York Knicks.

Collison isn't a Hall of Famer like Kidd, or even an All-Star quality piece, but he does bring a few attributes to the table that will make him invaluable.

 

Speed

Collison is fast—real fast.

His parents are both former sprinters, and in 2010, the then New Orleans Hornets rookie boasted that he was the fastest player in the NBA to Hoop Magazine.

“I definitely think I’m the fastest player. I got a chance to watch Ty Lawson‘s game and he is probably up there. I’d definitely say I’m the fastest.”

While this may have been a bit of bluster—players like Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose may beg to differ with his assessment—there is no doubt about Collison's speed on the court.

He's deadly in the fast break, as his ball control and quickness allow him to explode in the open court. Collison also excels at attacking the basket. He uses his swift strides to work around the pick and roll, and accelerates on a dime after beating his man off the dribble. 

This ability to create scoring opportunities with speed was an element the Mavericks lacked with Kidd  at the helm of the offense.

Kidd, while an amazing point guard, doesn't exactly have the fleetest pair of feet anymore. He mostly made plays with his advanced basketball IQ and extraordinary feel for passing the rock.

Collision's speed will bring a new aspect to the Mavericks' system, and it will be interesting to see what Dallas can do with a point guard who can play for longer than 28 minutes a game at full throttle.

 

Scoring Ability

Kidd is the second-leading assist man in NBA history. Collison is no where close to that mark. But thankfully for the Mavs, they don't need him to be.

Dallas just needs him to have a decent assist-to-turnover rate, and more importantly, serve as a legitimate threat to score.

He will be able to provide that too.

Collison has averaged 12 points a game over his career, and even in a backup role with the Pacers last year, he was able contribute 10 points a contest.

Kidd, on the other hand, managed to score only a paltry 6.2 points for the Mavs in a starter's role. Most of those buckets came off three-point attempts, and it seemed that you were more likely to see Bigfoot than watch Kidd drive to the bucket.

This posed a problem for Dallas much of the season.

The Mavericks lacked speed and defenses could always key off Kidd, because they knew exactly what Kidd would do—shoot a three or drive and dish.

Collison brings a little variety to the Mavs' system.

He forces the defense to respect his ability to drive to attack the bucket and score, and he has a decent enough shot to keep people honest.

Dallas will also be able to bring in a myriad of extra plays to utilize his speed. The pick and role will be all the more effective with Collison's quickness and Dirk Nowitzki's shot, and Dallas can also run a lot of isolation plays with Collison that were just never possible with the ball in Kidd's hand.

 

Defense

There is no doubt that Kidd is one of the NBA's all-time best defensive guards. But over the last few years his quickness has left him and he's had to rely on his strength and veteran savvy to play D.

His lack of speed cost Dallas last season.

Against faster 1's, Kidd would have to slide over and guard the bigger shooting guards, forcing Jason Terry or Delonte West to handle the opposing point guard.

This caused mismatches in two places. Kidd would be forced to check a bigger guard who often utilized a height advantage to shoot over him. If that wasn't bad enough, a below-average defender like Terry was burdened with chasing around players like Westbrook and Chris Paul.

Collison will alleviate this issue.

The former UCLA Bruin excels on the defensive end of the court. His lateral quickness allows him to stay with anyone, and his long arms help to overcome his six-foot frame, making him a pesky defender in passing lanes.

He's also tenacious on the less glamorous end of the floor. His time under Ben Howland in college established that mentality, and it's carried over into his NBA skillset.

Dallas will greatly benefit from his defensive prowess.

Collison may not be a Hall of Famer like Kidd, but his unique abilities will bring things to the floor that Kidd just couldn't provide.

He may not ever drop a triple-double, but the 12 points and six assists that Collison will average in 2012-13 will be more than enough to compensate for Kidd's absence. 

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