Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
At last year's NBA fantasy draft, New Orleans rookie point guard Darren Collison was a virtual nonentity.
And with good reason.
The team's starting point guard was three-time NBA All-Star and fantasy superstar Chris Paul (2009-10 ADP 2.2). Paul came into last year with a gaudy 22.8 ppg scoring average along with 11.0 apg and 5.5 rpg from 2008-09.
But twice during last season, Paul suffered serious injuries which sidelined him and put Collison in the spotlight. Collison had a two-week stretch in mid- November and then a seven-week stint in February and March where he ran the Hornets offense. He ran it very well. Even after Paul returned, Collison's role in the Hornets offense was greatly increased through the final games of the season.
Collison's points-per-game average and assists-per-game average rose directly in correlation with his minutes played-per-game.
In February, Collison averaged 41.8 minutes-per-game and his offensive numbers shot through the roof. He scored at a 21.6 ppg pace with an average 8.3 assists and 3.9 rebounds. March was still pretty good, even though Paul returned for the second half, as Collison averaged 39.4 minutes, 16.9 ppg, 9.1 apg and 2.9 rpg.
This is important, because Collison was traded to the Indiana in the off- season and the Pacers' offense will be under his control. He's averaged 28.7 minutes during the preseason but figures to hover around the 35-minute mark once they start playing for real.
"His best style, by far, because he's quick, is an up-tempo style," said Pacers coach Jim O'Brien. "When he gets comfortable with that and embraces it, you're going to see what Darren Collison is capable of becoming - a topflight point guard.
Up-tempo style and plenty of playing time should yield statistics similar to those he produced in February and March.
Collison is currently going in the fourth round in most drafts (ADP 38) which might be one of the largest jumps ever for a second-year player. But based on his production in New Orleans, I wouldn't be afraid of making the commitment to Indiana's new starting point guard.