DALLAS – The little point guard was the biggest basketball bright spot on the Mavericks’ 1-1 European trip.
The 6-foot, 160-pound Collison averaged 14 points and 6.5 assists against Alba Berlin and FC Barcelona Regal, making 11 of 19 shots from the floor. That’s the kind of production the Mavs expect to get on a regular basis from the 25-year-old point guard acquired from the Pacers in a summer deal.
“Collison’s going to be great for us,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He played well, and he’s going to get better as each passing week goes by.”
Kidd will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but the old man’s burst is long gone. Collison’s best attributes are his speed and quickness.
Collison’s ability to penetrate and finish should add a dimension to the Mavs’ halfcourt offense that has been missing. The key for Collison, who has career averages of 10.0 points and 3.9 rebounds, is to be aggressive while keeping his teammates involved.
Of course, Collison would prefer that the Mavs don’t operate out of halfcourt sets too often. His message to the Mavs: Be ready to run.
“They know every miss, every make, I’m constantly trying to run down there and score in transition first,” said Collison, who has career averages of 10.0 points and 3.9 assists. “I’m constantly trying to put pressure on the defense with my speed. As long as they run, they’ll be fine.”
When it was mentioned that the veteran Mavs might not be able to keep up with him, Collison smiled and said, “We have a lot of trailers.”
That list of trailers begins with Dirk Nowitzki, who has long been deadly on transitions 3s.
But Nowitzki has played with two of the all-time premier passers in Steve Nash and Kidd. Collison’s style reminds more of Devin Harris, whom Nowitzki was never really comfortable with as the Mavs’ point guard, which played a major role in the 2008 trade for Kidd.
The challenge for Collison is to be a distributor without sacrificing aggressiveness.
“He’s a really good point guard who understands the game,” Carlisle said of Collison. “He can score and he has a good feel for being a set-up guy. He’s been a score-first point guard, and I don’t want him to lose that mentality, because that’s a weapon for us.”
Added Nowitzki: “Obviously, he’s got to use that speed to our advantage. He’s got to push the ball off makes, misses, it doesn’t really matter. He’s got to fly up the court and get the wings running with him. He’s got to penetrate for us, make some stuff happen, collapse the defense, kick it out to shooters. We expect him to be our motor every night.”
So far, Collison has been a dream for Carlisle to coach. He made a heck of a first impression by contacting the Mavs’ video staff immediately after the trade so he could study film of his teammates, wanting a head start in learning when and where they want the ball. Collison has been telling his fellow Dallas newcomers where to go during plays since the day camp opened.
“I’ve got a lot on my shoulders as far as being a point guard,” Collison said, “but I’m accepting the challenge.”