Rookie Battle: CP3 vs DC2

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Published: February 18, 2010

Ever since CP3 was first injured and Darren Collison proved a capable replacement, fans have been speculating that DC2 might be the next great point guard in New Orleans. His double-doubles remind us of a time when Chris Paul, the greatest point guard on the planet, was healthy and on the court wowing us more and more with each passing play.

Collison certainly has had a few CP3-like performances, such as his current four game stretch with 24 or more points in each, or his 18 point, 17 assist, 6 rebound night against Memphis at the end of January, the latter of which broke Chris Paul’s all time Hornets’ rookie record for assists in a game. Certainly that means he’s at least on par with the rookie CP3, right?

Sorry to spoil the fun, but that isn’t the case. There are a few areas where CP3 and Darren Collison are certainly similar, so let’s take a look at those first. Note that Collison has only started 15 games total, so his sample size as a starter is still very, very small. Also note that Collison is 22, so I’ve included Paul’s rookie and 22 year old stats for for the sake of better comparing them.

Stat CP3 as rookie CP3 at 22 Collison as starter Collison overall
Minutes 36.0 37.6 35.7 *stats will be per 36
Points 16.1 21.1 16.9 15.1
FG% 43.0 48.8 45.2 43.7
FT% 84.7 85.1 87.7 85.4
Assists 7.8 11.6 7.9 6.9
Blocks .1 .1 .07 .08

As you can see, at first glance it’s reasonable to assume that Collison is on par with what Paul was doing when he won the ROY in 2005-2006. It’s when one takes a deeper look into these stats however, that it becomes obvious why Paul was the clear-cut rookie of the year, whereas Collison hasn’t even been mentioned in the running. Let’s take a look at how they differ:

Stat CP3 as rookie CP3 at 22 Collison as starter Collison overall
Turnovers 2.3 2.5 3.9 3.6
Assist/TO 3.39 4.64 2.03 1.9
Rebounds 5.1 4.0 3.3 3.6
Points per shot 1.33 1.31 1.20 1.11
FTA per game 6.0 4.9 3.8 3.2
Steals 2.2 2.7 1.27 1.4
3P% 28.2 36.9 43.8 34.0

When looking at these stats, it becomes apparent how much better CP3 was both as a rookie, and as a 22 year old. Most notably is the Assist/TO ratio, which shows the huge disparity in floor vision. Collison may be getting as many assists as Paul did, but he’s doing it while turning the ball over substantially more. Remember his franchise record setting ten turnover game?

Paul’s assist/TO has been among the top three in the league for years, with a career low ranking of sixth in his rookie year. Collison’s assist/TO ratio this year is ninth from last, ahead of mostly scoring point guards such as Mo Williams, Stephen Curry, and Gilbert Arenas.

As a point guard turnover rate and steals are a pretty big stat. Turnover rate for obvious reasons, and steals because they are often indicative of how much they are pressuring the opposing ball handler. Looking strictly at steals and turnovers, it’s reasonable that the team would have 2.1 more possessions per game with CP3 on the floor as opposed to Collison. Those possessions translate into around 2.3 points for the Bees per 36 minutes, given the average points the Hornets score per shot. It’s not an exact science, but it’s certainly indicative of why the Bees are so good with CP3 on the floor and so much worse when he’s not.

Also, as Ryan mentioned to me earlier, this years Hornets are playing at a much faster pace than the Hornets of old, making Paul’s assist, rebounding, and scoring numbers even more impressive.

And as a bonus, I’ve included “clutch stats” for each player solely during their rookie year. This term refers to stats accumulated during the fourth quarter or overtime, when both teams are within five points of each other and there are less than five minutes left in the game.

Stat Rookie CP3 per 48 Rookie Collison per 48
FG% 42.2 50.0
Points 31.5 33.9
Points Per Shot 2.02 1.50
Assists 4.8 6.1
Assist/TO 2.0 1.4

It’s clear that both guards do a great job in crunch time, but again CP3 is just superior. Averaging over 2 points per shot is unheard of in the NBA, especially for a rookie point guard playing when it matters most. Collison’s 1.5 is great, but CP3’s number is just mind blowing.

To summarize, Collison is having a great rookie season considering where he was drafted, whereas Paul just had a great season in general. There is no doubt that Collison has a bright future ahead, but to compare him to Chris Paul is just unfair at this point.

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