What The Mavs Are Building: Collison Vs. Kidd

What Are The Mavs Building? Here's Part 3 of our series - Collison vs. Kidd. It's Synergy and The Eye Test but somewhere in here, we've got to get beyond stats and dig into BBIQ ... and do so with the help of a DB.com Video that highlights the best of Collison and Kidd:

What Are The Mavs Building, Part 3 – Collison vs. Kidd

We're over the halfway point in the Dallas Mavericks summer Piece-by-Piece series. In Part 1 we looked at Kaman vs Haywood and got excited about having a center be a part of the offense again while being able to grab rebounds. In Part 2 we looked at all the ways OJ Mayo can help Dallas on both ends of the floor while paying respect to the departed Jet. See DB.com's Archives for the stories. Here we will examine Darren Collison and take a look at his basketball DNA and see if he's up to the task of replacing a legend in Jason Kidd.

Is it possible to upgrade from a sure-fire Hall of Famer with a player on his fourth team in three years, especially one who has seen his numbers decline each season (much like his fellow backcourt mate, Mayo)?

The Basics

Collison 10.4 ppg, 4.8 apg, 3.1 rpg, 13.62 PER

Kidd 6.4ppg, 5.5 apg, 4.1 rpg, 13.11 PER

Right away, the limitations in Kidd's ability to score are apparent. Deprived of the ability to drive to the rim (never really a staple in his game, but more useful when he was young), Kidd was little more than a spot-up shooter and facilitator last season. Collison, while nowhere near the floor general that 18-year vet Kidd, was, has the stats (if not he rep) showing an ability to be a capable distributor while possessing two elements to his game that Kidd no longer had: the ability to drive and finish.
Collison's numbers last season were a bit puzzling; on one hand, he had the highest PER of any Pacer in last season's playoffs, but for the third consecutive season, his numbers saw a decline overall. A career 46.0% FG shooter, Collison's percentage has dropped each season to a low of 44.0% last year. While that trend is somewhat troubling, even last season's low for Collison would rank as Jason Kidd's second best shooting season ever.

From the arc, Collison again bested Kidd, hitting 36.2% to Kidd's 35.4%. It's worth noting, however, that Kidd took an average of 4.6 threes a game last year, compared to Collison's 0.6 per. Shot location is also noteworthy as the vast majority of Kidd's field goals attempted per game were beyond the arc, (4.6 of his 5.7 FGA per game) while Collison took just 1.6 of his 8.7 shots per game from downtown.

As a distributor, Kidd clearly has the advantage. He possessed the unique ability to see plays develop before anyone else and could hit a man with a pass before he even knew he was open. A Kidd specialty in the Dallas offense: "the hockey assist,'' the pass that leads to the pass that results in a basket.

It would be unfair to expect Collison to approach the savant-like level Kidd owns as a BBIQ master (and indeed, the reason DB.com invented the word "BBIQ.'') Even so, Collison assisted on a quarter of his teammates' FG's last season while Kidd assisted on 28.4% of baskets made. Collison is a capable distributor, averaging just a shade over 5 assists for his career, and last year averaged a respectable 2.52 A/TO ratio. That ratio is still not as good as Kidd's 2.89 A/TO ratio last season, and still below his career 3.0 ratio, but it is better than the 2.18 A/TO ratio posted by Deron Williams last year.

Another area that Collison likely won't approach Kidd's status is in rebounding. Indeed Kidd is one of the greatest rebounders for a PG, and a leading rebounder of many Nets teams. Indeed, last season Kidd grabbed about 10% of available rebounds between offense and defense while Collison nabbed 5.4%. Statistically, however, Collison is an above-average rebounder, ranking 13th among point guards in RPG last season, so Dallas wont be taking much of a hit in this department.

The Video Look

DB.com videographer Imran Virani with a look at both players:

Offensive Sets

Thanks to our friends at Synergy, we see that the vast majority of Collison's offense comes off of two plays: as the P&R ballhandler (28.5%) and in transition (24.4%). In P&R's, he averages 0.76 points per possession, ranking 90th in the league while hitting 41.4% of his shots.

Two interesting notes here: one, he draws a shooting foul only 3.6% of the time, below his overall average of 5.6%. Second, P&R's result in turnovers 18.5% of the time for Collison, his highest of any set, but still well below Kidd's 30% turnover rate in P&R's. In transition, Collison averages 1.07 ppp, hitting 47.2% of his shots and draws a shooting foul 10.5% of the time, his highest of any set.

The rest of Collison's offense comes in spot-ups (14.9%) and isolation (14.2%). He achieves his greatest success in spot-up situations, hitting 1.06 ppp, 65th in the league, shooting 42% and 37% on threes. When isolated, he averaged a respectable 0.77 ppp. Kidd, on the other hand, found himself in isolation plays less than 3% of the time. Collison simply has more athleticism than the aged Kidd with many more options in his arsenal.

By way of comparison, Jason Kidd essentially scored on two types of plays last year: spot-ups (44.2%) and pick-and-rolls (20.8%) as the ballhandler. 90 of his 113 made FG's came from those two plays and of those, 77 were three-pointers. As a scoring threat on offense, Kidd is practically one-dimensional at this point in his career. The Mavericks would be replacing his limitations with a multi-faceted scoring threat who can distribute (based simply on assist totals) on a comparable level.

(It is worth noting that Kidd in pick-and-roll sets was one of the best in the business, averaging 0.98 ppp, 11th-best in the league.)

Taken together, these numbers suggest that Dallas will enjoy more variety on offense from their PG while taking an inevitable step back in BBIQ. Kidd is simply the best in the business in that department. It would not be surprising to see fewer turnovers from Collison than surrendered by Kidd last year (especially as Jason last year developed a nasty habit of throwing errant baseball passes.) Instead of a perimeter facilitator, Collison will seek to push the tempo and has the athleticism to drive and finish in a way Kidd no longer could.


Another area where Collison will struggle to replicate Kidd's production is on defense, where Kidd has been elite -- if slower recently -- for the majority of his career.

On the surface, Collison's athleticism would seem to give him an advantage over Kidd when playing against quicker guards; Kidd couldn't guard the waterbugs anymore. But that effect may be mitigated by Kidd's size advantage against larger 2's and wing players.
Overall, Collison's net +/- was a +121 for the season. While on the court, the Pacers' offense last season was about half-a-point better than with him off. Ditto with defense. Kidd, was a net +66 for the season, and the Mavericks were 2.8 points better per 100 possessions with him on the court versus 0.1 points worse with him off.

It's important to note that when comparing Collison and Kidd on defense, we are not quite comparing apples to apples as Kidd often covered opposing SG's and at times, SF's, depending on matchup. With that in mind let's look at the deep stats.

Overall last season, Collison allowed opponents to score 0.88 ppp while Kidd only surrendered 0.83 ppp, a difference of about 61 spots in their league rank. Opponents shot 40.6% against Collison as opposed to 38.5% against Kidd. Overall, Collison fouls at about a 5.3% clip as opposed to Kidd's 3.6% rate. Collison also causes a turnover at a slightly higher rate, 12.4% of the time as opposed to 11.8% for Kidd.

Broken down by individual plays, Kidd and Collison are surprisingly similar in terms of stat results. In isolation sets, Collison surrenders 0.92 ppp to Kidd's 1 ppp. However, Collison's opponent only shoots 36.8% of his shots as opposed to 52.2% of the shots of Kidd's opponents. In the P&R, Collison and Kidd surrender 0.74 and 0.76 ppp but Collison's man shoots about 5% better, (40.6% FG% to 35.9% respectively.

Spot-up shooting situations is the only other area where major differences are noted. Kidd surrenders 0.86 ppp, 94th best in the league, while Collison gives up 0.98 ppp, 240th in that category. Collison's man hits about 37% of his FG's to Kidd's 34%, and Kidd comes up with a steal about 5% more often in these sets.

Taken together, these numbers bear out what I mentioned above, that Kidd's size gives him an advantage, but Kidd and Collision are not defending the same players. Overall, Kidd's defensive rating, a measure of how many points surrendered per 100 possessions, was 101, notably better than Collison's at 108.

On both sides of the ball, we will see Collison present a more diverse and athletic skill set to the honed specialty of the declining Kidd. In fact, this is a common theme throughout this offseason as Mayo, Kaman and Collison replace Terry, Haywood and Kidd, respectively. For much of the past few seasons, each Maverick player had a well-defined role and together they created a whole that was greater than the sum of it's parts.

Beginning last season, and carried forward to this offseason, Dallas began replacing players with limited but honed skills with players with less specialized, if less polished games. This brings both the perils and the promise of the new season: more unknowns, but more potential, a higher ceiling but perhaps a lower floor.

Which might be the perfect way to describe where Dallas hopes Darren Collison is going vs. where Father Time says Jason Kidd might be going.

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