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NBA Celebrating Its "Remarkable" Rookie: Darren Collison

Bob Licht on notes how our DC has emerged as one of the most remarkable "rookies" during this NBA season. The classic Ben Ball warrior has teamed up with Marcus Thornton to become "the most talked about rookie tandem in the NBA." From

Collison, the 21st pick in last June's point guard-dominated draft, has opened up eyes all around the NBA for the phenomenal job he's done "filling in" for CP3. He's recorded three double doubles, one triple double, scored 20 or more points seven times, broken Paul's franchise rookie record with 18 assists, and helped the Hornets go 9-9 in his first 18 starts. Over a six game stretch in mid-February the 6-foot, 160 pound rookie hardly played like a part timer, matching Paul's scoring average (24.0 ppg) in the seven games prior to his left knee injury.

The evolution of "DC" from limited play off the bench to major contributor may have never occurred this season had star Chris Paul not suffered two separate injuries. In Jeff Bower's head coaching debut, Friday, November 13th, CP suffered a severely sprained left ankle. In his first extended minutes as a pro Collison nearly led the Hornets to victory, scoring 18 points along with two assists in 26 minutes off the bench. The next day he made his first NBA start at Atlanta, scored 10 points and hit double figures in every game he played for Paul (including his first 20 point effort in Los Angeles against the Lakers). New Orleans split his first eight starts.

The second Paul injury occurred during an overtime loss at home against Chicago on January 29th. This time it was a left knee issue that required surgery and forced the three-time all star out of the lineup for 4-6 weeks. What Collison has done since that fateful day is making believers out of every opposing point guard who thought they were about to take advantage of the Hornets youngest player. The 22-year-old from UCLA has led New Orleans to surprising wins over Charlotte, Boston, and Houston (all playoff contenders) and has now scored 17+ points in his last seven games, including 20 or more in 5 of 6. His surprising production has been a byproduct of an uncanny display of composure, especially in light of the current playoff race the Hornets are involved in.

Read rest of the piece here. Amazing what happens when a kid decides to stay his entire four years in college.