The Dallas Mavericks have swapped out an aging Pac-10 backcourt with next-generation Pac-12 backcourt. Gone are Jason Kidd (Cal) and Jason Terry (Arizona). In are Darren Collison (UCLA) and O.J. Mayo (USC), a pair of 24-year-olds who are collectively 26 years younger than their predecessors.
Collison will fill the shoes (and the uniform No. 2?) vacated by Kidd when he chose to finish his career with the New York Knicks after a four-plus season-long second stint in Dallas. No one will mistake the 6-foot, 160-pound Collison's shifty point game for that of the 39-year-old, Hall of Fame-bound Kidd, who will go down as one of the great court visionaries and passers in league history.
Collison, though, said he's ready to start a new chapter of highly successful basketball in Dallas.
"It’s going to be an honor to step in his position and try to continue to do the same things that he brought to the table," Collison said Tuesday during an appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's "Coop and Nate." "It’s going to be difficult, but at the same time I feel like I’m my own player.
"I think what I bring to the table is my quickness and to play defense, too. I want to be able to pressure and create some tempo on the defensive end. I’m not so much worried about the offensive end, I think that’s going to take care of itself, but on the defensive end I want to be that energy guy. I think that’s when I can bring some different things to the table."
As for the offensive side, Collison said he's looking forward to getting back to a pick-and-roll system that he thrived in at New Orleans with David West. The last two seasons he's been immersed in more of an inside-out attack.
"That’s something me and Coach Carlisle spoke about. He spoke highly of J.J. Barea and his ability to get to the lane and he expressed how much he wants me to do the same," Collison said. "I couldn’t have asked for a better system. I think the pick-and-roll system is a system that suits me. Indiana, we had a little more of an inside-out game. We had some pick-and-rolls, but Dallas, here we run nothing but pick-and-rolls. That suits me. That’s something I did in new Orleans and that’s something I was accustomed to, so I have a chance to get back to that player I’m accustomed to in the system I’m about to embrace."
Collison said he's already started to look at film of his new teammates. He acknowledged it is going to take time to adjust, not only because he's new to the team, but because essentially the entire roster has been overhauled.
"I can’t tell you how quickly we’re going to start jelling together. At the same time, I can tell you that it’s going to take practice," Collison said. "We all want to win. We all want to have success in the playoffs, but it takes hard work just to get to the playoffs and it takes hard work to have that success in the playoffs. So I think the players that are around us, we’re new, and it's going to take us a little while to understand each other, our personnel on the court, but I’m already starting to watch film on these guys, get an early start. It’s going to be hard, but at the same time it can be done."