2011 Indiana Pacers Preview: PG Darren Collison Is Indiana's Franchise Player

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2011 Indiana Pacers Preview: PG Darren Collison Is Indiana's Franchise Player
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Indiana Pacers traded the rights to Kawhi Leonard, their No. 15 pick in the 2011 NBA draft, to the San Antonio Spurs for Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis product George Hill.

Hill was a more than capable point guard in San Antonio while backing up Tony Parker. Many analysts believed it was Parker that would be dealt on draft day, not Hill.

The Spurs had worked diligently in grooming Hill to be the heir apparent to Parker's throne since selecting him 26th overall in the 2008 NBA draft.

Hill is a dominant, defensive-minded court general that will excel in Indiana’s aggressive defense-first system.

But one thing is for certain: Hill was not brought to Indiana to supplant current Pacers starting point guard Darren Collison.

Collison is the team's franchise player, and the organization picked up the 2012-13 team option on the fleet-footed point guard last week. As per team policy, the terms were not disclosed.

The Pacers acquired Collison in a four-team, five-player deal from the New Orleans Hornets in August 2010.

Prior to his trade to Indiana, Collison was a prolific playmaker for the Hornets.

When Chris Paul missed time on two separate occasions during the 2009-10 season, rookie Darren Collison assumed the team’s starting point guard position.

It was as if Paul never left the lineup.

In a game against the Memphis Grizzlies in 2010, Collison broke a Hornets rookie record by dishing out 18 assists in the game.

Collison then broke his own rookie record by dishing out 20 assists in a game against the Golden State Warriors later that season.

The Indiana Pacers got a good look at Collison during his rookie season in New Orleans. In a game against the Pacers on Feb. 19, 2010, Collison posted a triple-double, helping ensure a Hornets victory over the Pacers 107-101.

Collison played well for the Pacers in the 2010-11 season. Collison started 79 games for the Pacers, averaging 13.2 points and 5.1 assists per game.

And Collison is by no means apprehensive by the arrival of George Hill.

Mike Wells of indystar.com wrote: “Don’t be surprised to be see Collison and Hill playing together in the backcourt at times since Hill can also play shooting guard.”

When addressing the Hill trade, Collison was quoted in the article saying, “It’ll be good competition, which will only make us better. He’s a very good defender and he can play both guard spots.”

I firmly believe that Collison is the point guard of the future for the Indiana Pacers and a potential NBA All-Star.

George Hill is a solid backcourt addition for the Pacers.

Indiana will work diligently in utilizing both players early and often in the 2011-12 season.

With Collison on board, a second consecutive trip to the postseason is all but guaranteed for next season's Indiana Pacers, with or without Danny Granger.

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