The Los Angeles Clippers beat the Dallas Mavericks 119-112 on Friday night to put their record at 23-12 this season, but Chris Paul went down with what has been diagnosed as a separated right shoulder and he is expected to be out for 3-5 weeks. Replacing arguably the NBA’s best point guard will not be easy, but Darren Collison had 20 points, four assists and three rebounds on Friday night and he is now expected to start in Paul’s place over the next few weeks.
Friday night’s performance is one of the high points of Collison’s season thus far, as he was averaging career-lows virtually across the board (8.1 points and 2.0 assists per game, etc.) entering the game, with just one start in the first 34 games. His fantasy upside is clearly limited when Paul is healthy, but should fantasy basketball owners consider Collison a must-add now?
Collison’s career splits show a fairly dramatic difference in his production as a starter (13.4 points, 5.8 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game) as opposed to off the bench (8.3 points, 2.9 assists and 2.0 rebounds per game), so more playing time while Paul is out should suit him fine and the Clippers don’t have a lot behind him anyway.
Collison is unlikely to stand out in any single fantasy category and comparing him to Paul would obviously be foolish for anyone to do, but owners that maintain realistic expectations can expect solid production in four categories (points, assists, rebounds and steals) with shooting percentages that won’t be a detriment to his value even with a bigger role.
Paul is scheduled for further evaluation on Sunday or Monday to help determine the extent of his injury, and at that point a more concrete timetable for his return to action will likely be offered. Collison is available in 80 percent of Yahoo! leagues right now, but that is already starting to change dramatically and any owner that wants to add him will have to act quickly. If Paul winds up needing shoulder surgery and is out for longer than 3-5 weeks, there’s a chance Collison sustains solid value for most of the rest of the season.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.