Former Kansas University power forward Nick Collison of the Oklahoma City Thunder turns 30 today — Opening Day of the 2010-11 NBA season.
Unfortunately, KU’s No. 2 scorer of all-time begins his eighth pro campaign unavailable for duty.
A stress reaction in Collison’s lower-left leg kept him from playing in the preseason. He is still a couple of weeks away, according to the Daily Oklahoman.
“It’s a little frustrating because it’s a bone that has to heal. Once it’s fully healed, it should be in the rearview the rest of the year,” Collison told the Oklahoman.
“It’s a tough injury because I feel pretty good walking around. I could play through the pain right now, but if I start to grind on it when it’s not healed yet, there’s going to come a point where it starts to go back downhill, and that means I would have to sit out long-term,” added Collison, one of 12 former Jayhawks on the roster of NBA teams.
He’s joined on OKC’s roster by rookie center Cole Aldrich, who has been slowed by a joint sprain in his left shoulder. Aldrich averaged 1.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in four exhibition games.
“It’s both unfair and unwise to judge the No. 11 overall pick on four preseason games. But foul trouble certainly looks like it will be an issue for Aldrich at least early on in his NBA career,” writes Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman. “He fouled out of two games, one in 17 minutes and the other in just 10 minutes. When he’s on the court, though, Aldrich makes his presence felt, battling for loose balls, setting hard screens and swatting and altering shots at the rim.”
Here’s a look at the other Jayhawks gearing for the 2010-11 season.
Darrell Arthur, Memphis Grizzlies: The third-year forward averaged 11.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in seven preseason games. He earned the team’s sixth-annual “Pride of Training Camp Award,” handed to the Grizzlies player who “best displays consistency and growth on the cusp of a new season.” Polling was done by the Memphis players.
“He’s knocking down shots, he’s playing hard, his wind is good and you can tell he worked hard this summer. There’s no question, it’s him (as obvious award winner),” forward Rudy Gay told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal.
Hindered by various injuries, Arthur has averaged 5.2 points and 4.2 rebounds while appearing in 108 games in two seasons.
Xavier Henry, Memphis Grizzlies: The rookie guard/forward averaged 7.8 points and 3.1 rebounds while logging 21.8 minutes per game in eight preseason games. He scored 15 against New Orleans and 13 versus Detroit in his final two outings.
Darnell Jackson, Sacramento Kings: The third-year forward, who entered camp without a guaranteed contract, remains on the Kings’ roster heading into Wednesday’s opener. He averaged 5.7 points and 4.3 rebounds in six preseason games. He started the Kings’ final exhibition, scoring seven points at Utah.
“A hardworking guy, tough. He’s done really well,” coach Paul Westphal told the Sacramento Bee.
Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat: The third-year combo guard averaged 6.0 points and 4.3 assists in four exhibitions. He has been slow to come back from an ankle injury that sidelined him all summer. The South Florida Sun Sentinel says as of Monday night he remained inactive for tonight’s opener. The list isn’t official until late this afternoon.
Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes that the Heat remain lukewarm on Chalmers, who opens the season as point guard backup to Carlos Arroyo.
“Injuries at this stage clearly are holding Mario back,” Winderman writes. “But I do believe the blind faith in Mario ends soon. Instead of players motivating Mario, I could see top-end teammates losing faith.”
He adds: “It will be interesting to see if Chalmers is made to earn his way back. This team has little need for two true point guards in the primary rotation.”
Sherron Collins, Charlotte Bobcats: The rookie point guard averaged 2.6 points and 2.0 assists in five exhibitions. Collins, who has battled ankle and knee injuries, appears to be a favorite of coach Larry Brown, who has thus far kept him around despite acknowledging publicly that Collins is overweight and too banged up to play.
Drew Gooden, Milwaukee Bucks: The ninth-year NBA forward averaged 13.8 points and 4.6 boards in eight preseason games. Gooden, who has played for seven teams, is expected to start in Milwaukee.
Kirk Hinrich, Washington Wizards: Hinrich, who is in his eighth season, played his first seven with the Chicago Bulls. The veteran combo guard, who will tutor John Wall this season, averaged 9.4 points and 3.6 assists in seven exhibition games.
Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics: The future Hall of Famer, who turned 33 on Oct. 13, opens his 13th season, all in Boston. The guard/forward has averaged 22.5 ppg and 6.1 rpg in 12 seasons. He’s an eight-time all-star.
Brandon Rush, Indiana Pacers: Third-year pro Rush averaged 7.5 points in four exhibition games. The team saw no urgency to play the shooting guard/small forward, since he will serve a five-game suspension to start the season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
Julian Wright, Toronto Raptors: The fourth-year small forward spent his first three seasons as a sub for the New Orleans Hornets.
He averaged 3.4 points and 1.2 boards while logging just 8.2 minutes per game in five exhibition games.