Being the backup point guard for the best assist man in the NBA, Chris Paul, is not an easy job. The playing time isn’t great and everyone is waiting for you to get off the floor so that Paul can come back in and run the offense. Despite this unappealing job description, Clippers point guard Darren Collison is making the most of his time on the floor for the Los Angeles Clippers this season.
Paul is one of the best defensive point guards in the league, so Collison has big shoes to fill when he checks in for Doc Rivers. Many times this season, however, the drop off in defensive play from Paul to Collison has not been that noticeable.
Watching the Clippers’ win over the Charlotte Bobcats the other night really showed Collison’s defensive ability. He does a fantastic job of staying in front of the ball and not giving his opponent much to work with. He also keeps his hands incredibly active so as to create turnover opportunities for himself and his teammates. The usually crafty Bobcats point guards Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions had quite a difficult time coping with the smothering defense of Collison.
Statistics usually don’t provide a very accurate measure of how good a player’s defensive game is all around, but Collison’s steal numbers are noteworthy. He only averages 0.9 steals per game, but he is also only playing 18.4 minutes a game. This brings his steals a game per 36 minutes to 1.8 according to Basketball-Reference.com. If Collison did play starters minutes, this would be good enough to earn him a spot in the top 10 in terms of steals per game.
While his position as a back up for Paul may not be the most glorious one in professional basketball, Collison is definitely making a difference for the Clippers this year.