When the Dallas Mavericks missed out on Deron Williams during the 2012 period of free agency, many expected a down year in Texas. With the swift action taken to acquire point guard Darren Collison from the Indiana Pacers, however, optimism began to mount.
The question is: How exactly can Collison find his groove in Dallas after struggling during the first quarter of the season?
For the year, Collison is averaging a pedestrian 12.5 points and 5.7 assists on a slash line of .448/.286/.893. His career slash line is .459/.357/.858.
Are we seeing Collison's best or is there a way for him to turn it up a notch? Allow the latter to hold true to his contributions.
Here's how he can reach that potential.
Most will read this heading and assume that Darren Collison needs to balance his approach on the offensive end of the floor. Although that is true, it is not the issue at hand.
Collison needs to find balance in his body on both ends of the floor.
Collison is always going to be disruptive in the passing lanes and a handful in the open court. The issue early in this season, however, is that Collison is changing directions too fast for his own good.
It has led to him failing to convert shot attempts off the dribble and is allowing his assignment to expose him on defense.
Collison is forcing turnovers, but he's also overzealous. In turn, opposing point guards are taking him off the dribble and being handed open jump shots as Collison jumps out of position.
As soon as he finds his balance, the rest will fall into place.
When Darren Collison is at his best in the half court, he's capitalizing on his unparalleled quickness by working off of screens. This benefits Collison the most on high screens in facilitating sets.
Such as the pick-and-roll with Brandan Wright or the pick-and-pop with Chris Kaman, Elton Brand or Dirk Nowitzki.
This is where it all starts for Collison's role as a lead guard. He must embrace Wright's athleticism, as well as that of Jae Crowder, and facilitate their abilities to finish in the paint and restricted area.
Upon doing so, Collison will open up the perimeter for his sharpshooting bigs.
Nowitzki is one of the greatest pure shooters of all time, while Kaman and Brand are underrated in their elite status from mid-range.
During the 2011-12 regular season, Brand shot 46.4 percent from mid-range. For those who believe that to be a fluke, he hit 50.0 percent in 2010-11.
He attempted 450 shots from mid-range in 2011 and 302 in 2012. In other words, Brand can knock 'em down.
Kaman, meanwhile, shot 45.0 percent from said area in 2011 and 43.2 in 2012. His number presently sits at 50.9 percent for 2012-13.
As soon as Nowitzki returns from injury, Collison should become unstoppable in the screen games.
With Vince Carter and O.J. Mayo shooting the lights out, it's only fair that Darren Collison embrace a different type of screen such as the baseline, pocket, bump and high screens that are set for his perimeter teammates.
If Collison does so, he will find his groove.
For the season, Carter is shooting 46.7 percent from mid-range. His overall three-point percentage sits at an impressive 39.8 percent, but Carter's bread-and-butter has been from above the break.
An area where he's converting a stellar 44.2 percent.
As for Mayo, what more can we say? He's already topped 20 points in 11 outings and 30 in three.
That includes a 40-point performance against James Harden and the Houston Rockets.
This has come by virtue of Mayo shooting a league-best 53.0 percent on three-point attempts. He's shooting 40.9 percent from the corner and 55.9 percent from above the break.
Mayo is also connecting on 42.2 percent of his mid-range attempts. As long as Collison trusts Mayo and Carter coming off of screens, their curl-and-catch game will work to perfection.
In turn, Collison will reach his expected form.
For the season, Darren Collison is shooting 42.4 percent from mid-range.
He's shooting just 33.3 percent on corner threes and 28.6 percent from above the break. His overall number sits at 28.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Take a few steps inside the line and you'll be golden, Mr. Collison.
Collison is shooting 45.5 percent from 16 feet to the three-point line. That number dips to 28.6 beyond it.
He's also shooting 29.6 percent from 10-to-15 feet.
In other words, Collison should primarily be searching for jump shots from 16-to-23 feet. Otherwise, the chance of converting drops rather drastically for him.
And this isn't a new trend.
Although he has always been solid from 10-to-15 feet—shooting 40.2 percent in 2011-12—his bread-and-butter is the 16-to-23 foot jumper. He shot 45.3 percent on 161 attempts in 2011-12.
For his career, he's shooting 43.7 percent from said range.
16-to-23 feet away from the basket is the place to be if Collison is hoping to convert his jump shots. As soon as he makes the adjustment, his all-around game will open up as defenders step up on him.
As we all know, Collison is quick enough to blow by even the best defender.
You couldn't name five people in the NBA as quick in the half court or explosively fast in the open court as Darren Collison.
The issue is, Collison strays away from his greatest strength and becomes a half-court point guard. Although that is to be expected from time-to-time, Collison has the athleticism around him to push the pace in Dallas.
So why isn't he?
As a team, the Mavericks are running 15.5 percent of their players out in transition. They rank fifth in the NBA at 1.21 points per transition possession.
The issue is, it is not Collison who is pushing it up the court. It is players such as O.J. Mayo who handle the ball.
Collison needs to step up and take command of the game by demanding the ball come his way. In turn, he will be able to utilize his world-class open court abilities.
It is then that he will produce at the level expected of him. For proof, check his 58.4 percent shooting from the restricted area in 2012-13.
When Collison gets out and running, there's no way to slow him down.