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OKC Thunder forward Nick Collison settles in at natural position

Mike Baldwin, The Oklahoman Modified: October 25, 2009 at 9:33 am •  Published: October 25, 2009

photo - Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman.
Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman.
Nick Collison is ready, ready for a little less wrestling with 7-footers.

Shaquille O'Neal has moved on to Cleveland and the Eastern Conference. Yao Ming is out for the season. And the Thunder has made some roster moves that could mean more minutes at Collison's natural position, power forward.

“It will help to have a more traditional big body in there to contend with those guys because sometimes I'm a little overmatched size-wise.”

With Nenad Krstic set to start at center and Etan Thomas slotted for the backup role, Collison might get the chance to expand his game, which includes 17-foot shooting range.

“Nick can make jump shots,” said coach Scott Brooks. “We want him to have more confidence in that this year. He won't be playing against as many big centers. But there's not as many as there used to be.”

Collison's 64 career double-doubles — including 11 last season — are proof he can mix it up inside. At age 29, he's entering his sixth NBA season with career averages of 8.2 points and 6.9 rebounds. It's unclear what impact playing mostly power forward will have on the 6-foot-10, 255-pound Iowa native's production.

“I've said it a lot and it's not just a cliché, I just want to get on the floor as much as possible,” Collison said.

Ready: Though Nick Collison's intangibles don't always register on a stat sheet, one number underscores his value. And it's a statistic that might improve with less time battling big bodies in the paint.

His teams are a combined 88 games below .500 during his five-year pro career. But the Sonics/Thunder are 31-33 when Collison is in double digits for points and rebounds.

... or not:An active big man who thrives on put-backs and dunks off back-door cuts, Collison must knock down more jumpers now that he's projected to play fewer minutes at center.

Though he's a career 73.3 percent free throw shooter, Collison has shot only 33.0 percent on 15-foot jump shots the past two seasons.


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