Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Bandwagon: Nick Collison Is OKC's Efficient Leader

Setting screens and drawing charges. That's what Nick Collison does. (

Nick Collison is a bit of an anomaly. The casual NBA fan probably wonders why he is logging significant minutes on one the best teams in the league as a reserve forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He only averages about five ppg and never makes the flashy plays that get on SportsCenter's Top 10. Actually, one of Collison's few highlight videos online is just a video of him setting screens and taking charges.

However, any expert on basketball should be able to spot Collison's contributions to the Thunder. He is the ultimate team player. He’s like Shane Battier before he joined the Heat and stopped trying. At +9.8, Collison had the highest +/- per 48 on the team last season, which was almost two points higher than Kevin Durant. Collison led the NBA in taking charges last year and even Charles Barkley once said that he is the best screen setter in basketball.

Collison especially caught the attention of viewers last season during the NBA Finals. Many commentators and fans (myself included) were confused when Scott Brooks kept insisting on putting Kendrick Perkins in games over Collison. Yes, Perkins is more of a true center and Miami didn’t have a low post threat to guard him, but Collison is much better at guarding the pick and roll.

Collison is about as loyal of a team player as they come. He and Durant are the only Thunder players who also played for the franchise when it was in Seattle. Even though he is only 30, Collison is still the one of the role models and leaders on the young OKC team. When you look at the salary he is making compared to his impact, he is one of the biggest bargains in the league. Collison makes less than $3 million per year, which is about what OKC's rookie guard Jeremy Lamb is making even though Lamb has barely played. Still, Collison knows his role on the team. He never makes fancy plays or screams for attention, but he is one the best role players a team can have.

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