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Thunder's Nick Collison looks back on his roller-coaster ride

By John Rohde, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: May 31, 2011
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/articleid/3573005/1/pictures/1431991">Photo - OKLAHOMA CITY ARENA: Nick Collison (4) of Oklahoma City defends Dirk Nowitzki (41) of Dallas in the second half during game 3 of the Western Conference Finals of the NBA basketball playoffs between the Dallas Mavericks and the Oklahoma City Thunder at the OKC Arena in downtown Oklahoma City, Saturday, May 21, 2011. Dallas won, 93-87. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD
OKLAHOMA CITY ARENA: Nick Collison (4) of Oklahoma City defends Dirk Nowitzki (41) of Dallas in the second half during game 3 of the Western Conference Finals of the NBA basketball playoffs between the Dallas Mavericks and the Oklahoma City Thunder at the OKC Arena in downtown Oklahoma City, Saturday, May 21, 2011. Dallas won, 93-87. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD

“Early in the year, I didn't feel great, but I felt I was probably going to be OK. By the end, my body felt better. I think that helped me play better in the playoffs. I had some more spring in my legs. I was able to jump better, basically.”

What made Collison so valuable this year was his impeccable timing. Whenever the Thunder needed a presence – defensively, or on the offensive boards, or in the huddle – he would rarely disappoint.

Collison had 42 steals and took 57 charges. James Harden was next on the team in charges taken with 12.

“You can't underestimate the fact this is a player who's improved,” Presti said. “He's not 21 years old, but he's found crevasses to fill with improvement through preparation. We're proud to have him.”

Collison is the son of a coach and is known as one of the league’s smartest players. Perhaps the arrival of his 30th birthday last Oct. 26, plus the fact he initially was forced to stay on the sideline, made Collison become even more cerebral this season.

“I think he’s become a student of the game,” Presti said. “He’s one of the guys on our team who really, really embraces preparation. That helps him a great deal because a lot of his game is predicated on seeing things before they happen and doing things that — I hate to be cliché — don’t show up in a stat sheet.”

Collison’s career has been wide-ranging. He experienced a 20-win season with the Seattle SuperSonics and this year enjoyed a 55-win season that ended with an appearance in the Western Conference Finals.

Asked if this was his best season as a pro, Collison looked at it in terms of team achievement, not personal stats. "Yeah, for sure," Collison said. "There’s no doubt, with the success we had and being part of the team that won as many games as we did. That’s the first thing that pops into my head."

Just two seasons ago, Collison sat in front of his locker during the Thunder’s 3-29 start and admitted, ’This is the worst year ever.’ "

"It’s been really fun to be a part of this turnaround," Collison said. "We made another step forward. Now we know we have the ability. We have most of our personnel in place. Now we have to get better at the little things, winning games and executing. All the stuff, going from losing to winning, as much fun as that was, now we’re at a point where we really need to focus on our level of play. I think that’s the biggest thing coming into next year is we always have to be concerned with how we’re playing. Are we getting better at our weaknesses?"


NICK COLLISON'S NUMBERS

Career

GP-S; MIN.; FG; FT; REB.; AST; BLK; STL; PTS

525-169; 23.5; .532; .729; 6.4; 0.9; 0.6; 0.5; 7.4

2010-11 regular season

71-2; 21.5; .566; .753; 4.5; 1.0; 0.4; 0.6; 4.6

2010-11 playoffs

17-0; 24.3; .632; .783; 5.8; 0.9; 0.9; 0.9; 6.7

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