Thunder roundtable: Did Nick Collison get enough playing time this season?
The Oklahoman staff writers discuss three topics surrounding Nick Collison:
1. Did Nick Collison get enough playing time this season?
Darnell Mayberry (beat writer) – There were times when it appeared that Collison needed to play more. But there were other times when, for whatever reason, he just wasn't as effective as we've grown accustomed to seeing him be. So it's hard to make an argument now that he deserved more minutes. If he got them, they would have come at the expense of younger players who needed playing time. So I've got no complaints with Collison's playing time this season.
Anthony Slater (beat writer) – I think so. Only 10 minutes per game in the postseason seems a bit light, especially considering he started two games. But a ton of that had to do with the emergence of Steven Adams. Backup centers rarely near 20 minutes. Adams had earned that much every night. He was far more impactful than Collison would have been. And with the rotational shrinking that comes in every playoffs, Collison was the odd big man out.
Berry Tramel (columnist) – Yes. Nick Collison is 33 years old. He's not the same player he was four years ago, or two years ago. He still can have his moments — like Game 6 against the Clippers, when Collison played virtually the entire game. But his defense and rebounding aren't quite what they were a couple of years ago. He still shows flashes, but there are gaps.
2. Bigger role next season: Perry Jones or Nick Collison?
Mayberry – Until I see more out of PJ3, I'll say Collison. He's an experienced and smart player. And he's a better post defender. Jones will have to take minutes from Collison. They won't be given to him. Is he ready to do that?
Slater – I’ll go with Collison. But it all depends on Jones. Just like Adams in the playoffs, if Jones expands his game and proves dependable, he can leap Collison in the rotation. Higher upside. But Scott Brooks knows what he’s getting in Collison. He trusts him. Can’t yet say the same about Jones.
Tramel – I'll stick with Collison. But this year, Collison played 1,353 minutes. Perry Jones played 764. Those numbers will be much closer next season. Probably both around 1,000. The Thunder will use more small-ball lineups next season, though in truth, Jones is about three inches taller than Collison, so small-ball is sort of a silly term.
3. Will Collison end his career in OKC?
Mayberry – Yes. He's come to embody what a Thunder role player looks like. In that regard, Collison is as much of a pillar for the franchise as Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Like those two, Collison also was here from the beginning, also endured the tough times and also helped establish the culture that exists today. He's a foundational piece. He's highly respected in the organization. He's not going anywhere.
Slater – Probably. He seems like a guy who would pride himself on a one-franchise career, trying to stick it out until he sees the Thunder hoist that trophy. And we all know how the OKC front office feels about him. There’s one year left on his current contract. Then I could see the Thunder bringing him back for another year or two for around the vet minimum before he calls it quits.
Tramel – I'm going to guess yes. Collison's body probably won't last in the NBA rigors much longer. He's not a guy who will be on the end of the bench at age 39. His value is going down by the year. So I'll say he finishes a Thunder.