Indiana Pacers veteran Darren Collison has proven himself as a very reliable offensive point guard in the league this year.
Collison, 31, provides significant value on offense by creating opportunities as the ballhandler in a pick-and-roll offense. He has scored 240 points on this play type, which now ranks Top 20 in the East.
Additionally, he ranks No. 15 overall on total points scored off the dribble, showing his ability to create his own shot as well. These opportunities, plus the shots that were taken from long range off the pick and roll, are far less often from the corners and more likely above the arc.
But perhaps his most valuable offensive weapon has been his ability to knock down three-pointers from the corners.
“I’ve worked on corner threes a lot just to stay engaged and be involved and as soon as the ball gets in my hands,” explained Collison when he caught up with HoopsHype. “It just kind of carried over throughout various teams that I’ve been on.”
Collison has connected on 54.0 percent of his total three-point attempts taken from the corners.
“I’m playing with some good playmakers that can see me in the corner,” said Collison. “We have bigs who can shoot the ball really well so a lot of times my guy will sag off me to help on Myles Turner or Domas Sabonis and I’m able to get the shot off in the corner.”
This is the third time in his career that he has been among the league’s most accurate shooters in this zone, placing there his rookie season (2009-10) and during his final year with the Sacramento Kings (2016-17) as well. This is his tenth professional season and he has ranked in the 80th percentile or better all but three times, per Cleaning the Glass.
But this season, he is attempting field goals from the corner at a career-high frequency, accounting for approximately 11 percent of his total field goals.
“Before this year, coach Nate McMillan explained that he wanted more corner threes,” added Collison. “It’s just the most efficient shot in basketball right now.”
He has been especially prolific from the right corner this season, where he has connected on a total of 20 of his three-point attempts thus far. This ranks Top 5 among all players in the Eastern Conference.
According to Synergy Sports Tech, Collison is averaging 1.24 points per possession (92nd percentile) on his spot-up attempts for Indiana this season. Collison is also averaging 1.35 PPP (95th percentile) on his catch-and-shoot opportunities.
Perhaps most impressive has been his ability to knock down guarded catch-and-shoot attempts. He is averaging 1.4 PPP (96th percentile) on these looks thus far.
“Coach prefers us to take a contested corner three over an open pull-up from the top of the key,” said Collison. “It is the easiest shot.”
This kind of reliability has allowed his teammates to trust him to hit his easy looks. Collison is shooting 18-for-28 (64.3 percent) from long range after he has received passes from Bojan Bogdanovic.
“He’s playing some really good basketball so he is drawing more attention from end to end,” said the guard. “He understands the game, too. So he knows when he goes to the basket and he doesn’t have his shot, I will be ready on the other side playing weakside.”
Collison has also made more than half of his attempts made after passes from Thaddeus Young.
“He is another good passer especially at the big position,” added Collison. “I mean, he can bring the ball up the floor and make so many different plays by himself so it definitely helps to have playmakers like that.”
These three players have appeared on the court together for a team-high 1,393 minutes thus far. Indiana has scored 109.3 points per 100 possessions during that time.
But this three-man group has already played 701 of those minutes without Pacers star Victor Oladipo, who is out for the season with a major leg injury. Indiana has totaled 114.3 points per 100 when Collison has played alongside both Bogdanovic and Young but not Oladipo, per NBAWowy.
Despite how well they have played, things will change during the playoffs. Collison expects that when the postseason arrives, teams will begin to guard him a bit differently.
“They have been the last couple years. I don’t really get as much time to get my shot off. They close out really hard,” he said. “But it’s all part of being a good shooter. Those things are going to happen and if it does, I will just have to drive and create.”