Rookie Comparison: Darren Collison vs. Chris Paul

Joe GerrityCorrespondent IDecember 2, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 08:  Darren Collison #2 of the New Orleans Hornets goes up for a shot in front of Sasha Vujacic #18 of the Los Angeles Lakers  on November 8, 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers won 104-88.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Here in New Orleans, we know point guards. Let's face it—In Chris Paul, we have the best one in the league.

CP3 has been so dominant in his short career that as of now his only real equals statistically are historically great players such as Oscar Robinson and Magic Johnson.

So why am I proposing that Darren Collison is something special?

First off, as I said we here in New Orleans know point guards. When the Hornets play the Spurs, our eyes are on Tony Parker.

The plays that Collison makes prove that he has ice running through his veins.

Proof? In his sixth NBA start, matching up against ROY frontrunner Brandon Jennings, Collison hit a game tying three pointer with 7.5 seconds left. Then he calmly matched up against Jennings and stripped the ball away before he could get a shot off.

The place went nuts and rightfully so. It was indistinguishable from what CP3 does.

And that got me thinking about the comparisons.

Both undersized guards love to hit the runner over big men, are lightning quick and rarely turn it over. Paul seems to prefer the pick and roll a bit more, but Collison has shown he's capable of utilizing it in his arsenal as well.

Let's check out some stats per 36 minutes (what Paul played his rookie year). Collison is playing about 22, enough to forecast his production fairly well.


Paul: 16.1 points on 12.1 shots (1.33 PPS), at a 43% clip (28% from three).

Collison: 17.8 points on 14.7 shots (1.21 PPS), at a 42% clip (38% from three).

Paul gets the win here. Although he's scoring less, he was doing so at the rate of a marquee scorer in only his first year. For what it's worth, Collison's scoring rate is very impressive, better than Deron Williams' mark in his first (1.07) or second year (1.19).


Paul: 7.8 assists to 2.3 turnovers (3.4:1)

Collison: 6.8 assists to 3 turnovers (2.3:1)

Paul gets another win here by a slightly larger margin. His court vision was elite in his first year, something very few players can say.

Paul: 5.1 rebounds

Collison: 3.6 rebounds

Both are undersized, but Paul is among the best rebounding guards in the game whereas Collison is merely average.

Paul: Paul was and continues to be a Steal Monster. This goes right in line with his court vision, and seeing passing lanes.

When speaking specifically about his rookie year however, we must note that he gambled way to much. He was significantly smaller then than he is now and was pushed around by larger, more physical players.

At that point he was a below average one on one defender who often found himself caught off his man chasing steals.

Collison: Right off the bat you could tell that Collison was going to be a good defensive player. His ability to move through screens just looked natural, even though he was doing it at the highest level.

He doesn't get a lot of steal as a result of not gambling much, but that not necessarily a knock. Early on in Paul's career he cost his team more points with his gambling than he saved by it.

I find Collison to be a better defender than Paul was at the same stage in their careers.