Corner three: C – Each day after practice, as a select group of players split off for individual work, Nick Collison always migrated toward the corner. He’d work on a variety of jumpshots, but always finish off in that popular 3-point destination, trying to master the corner three. And he implemented it into the game this season, making six threes, four more than he converted in his previous nine years. But he needed 22 attempts to do it. Intriguing addition to his game, but still needs more refining.
Defense: B- – For a post defender, Collison is a bit undersized, leaving him to be occasionally exploited by some of the league’s best low-block scorers. But he always provides a solid fight, bodies people up, knows how to cover the pick-and-roll and typically forces tough shots. Blake Griffin or Zach Randolph might score on him, but it’s usually off a tough shot.
Passing: B – One of the most successful sets for the Thunder this season was a simple two-man game with Collison and Kevin Durant. To relieve pressure when Durant was being overplayed out on the perimeter, Collison would get the ball at the elbow, Durant would cut backdoor and Collison would routinely nail him with a perfect bounce pass for a dunk. It was just a small and deadly example of what Collison’s underrated passing ability did for the team. A team that failed to get enough easy baskets typically got more when he was on the floor.
Postseason: C – When Serge Ibaka went down with a calf injury in the second half of Game 6 in Los Angeles, Collison showed his worth. Unused in the game and sparsely used in the series, Collison jumped off the bench and played 17 crucial second-half minutes. He had a couple assists, defended well and made a huge corner three to help seal the series win. But other than that, he didn’t have much of a playoff impact. And he didn’t have much of a chance – playing only 10 minutes per night.
Local legend: A – Despite a limited role that continues to lessen by the year, Collison’s local status remains just as legendary as it has always been. He has a cult following in Oklahoma City. And it may have even gained a bit more steam late in the season, when the hard-nosed vet was continually cut, bloodied and bruised, but acted as if nothing happened. Stitch it up and get back in there.