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How Darren Collison could help the Lakers

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Darren Collison is reportedly considering signing with either the Lakers or the Clippers in free agency. If he were to join the former, he’d instantly help them in a few key ways.

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Indiana Pacers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Recently, there was a report that Darren Collison is considering joining the Lakers or the Clippers in February. The Lakers currently have a ton of guards, with Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Avery Bradley, Quinn Cook and Troy Daniels all on the roster. With that kind of glut, one might think, why would they need another guard?

Well, as it’s been well noted, the Lakers really need someone who can take care of the offense when LeBron James isn’t on the floor. The Lakers instantly become a different team when he’s not on the court — unless you’ve only watched the Lakers’ win against the Thunder on Saturday, in which case you probably think I’m crazy for pointing out any flaws in this current guard crop.

Adding Collison will help the Lakers in multiple ways, but the most important ones are his playmaking abilities, as well as his skill at scoring off of screens:

Rajon Rondo and Alex Caruso both have trouble scoring out of pick and rolls. In the 2018-19 season, Collison knocked down 109-236 (46.2%) of his mid-range shots. This season, Rondo has knocked down 30.4% of his mid-range attempts while Caruso has hit 26.7% of his. Collison’s ability to hit those shots off of pick and rolls forces the screener’s defender to have to step up and respect his shot. As you’ll see in the video above, Collison is able to not only knock down the shot when its there, but also find the screener when he rolls to the basket or pops out.

Last season, Collison was in the 72nd percentile as the pick and roll ball handler, compared to this season where Rondo is at a 39th percentile, and Caruso is at a 18th percentile. In the Lakers’ non-LeBron minutes, Collison can run that two-man game with Anthony Davis.

Collison can also create for himself at times. He’s not exceptional at it, but he was in the 69th percentile at it last season, compared to Rondo who is in the 14th percentile this season. Collison went 23-55 on his isolation attempts last year.

However, something I could tell from watching a couple games was how often Collison would stand around after passing the ball. He’d often stand in the same spot and not move, and would rarely ever cut. This is something that Caruso does better than he does, although both aren’t exceptional at it.

Collison would be a really nice pickup for the Lakers if he decided to join the team. A valid concern about signing Collison is that he may not be in game shape after not playing all season, but with the way the Lakers are currently playing and the type of chemistry the team has, they can definitely ease him into the lineup.

The Lakers don’t have many weaknesses, but Collison would help paper over some of their most prominent ones. It remains to be seen which team he’ll ultimately choose, but if he were to join the Lakers, he’d have a chance at a bigger role on a contender that needs him more. And because of how much he specifically eliminates some of their biggest issues, Collison would also probably make the Lakers instant title favorite. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

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