Posts tagged with Oklahoma City Thunder

Veteran Nick Collison ready to work with new coach Billy Donovan

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison (4) shoots in front of Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) during an NBA basketball game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma City, Friday, Feb. 20, 2015. Oklahoma City won 104-89. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison (4) shoots in front of Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) during an NBA basketball game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma City, Friday, Feb. 20, 2015. Oklahoma City won 104-89. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

In his 11 NBA seasons since graduating from Kansas, Nick Collison has played for just one franchise: the Oklahoma City Thunder (formerly the Seattle Super Sonics).

He began his professional career playing for coach Nate McMillan, then Bob Weiss, Bob Hill and P.J. Carlesimo before spending the past six seasons under Scott Brooks.

As Collison’s career winds down, he’ll play for a winner at the college level who hopes his own pro days are just beginning. Former Florida coach Billy Donovan took over as OKC head coach this offseason.

Collison had minor knee surgery recently, and his rehab has kept him around the Thunder’s facilities. His time there allowed the veteran to speak with Donovan on several occasions. Collison said in an interview on Oklahoma City’s website he tried to help the new coach get acclimated to the franchise.

At KU, Collison actually faced Donovan’s Gators in the 2002 Preseason NIT, and Florida won 83-73. Collison scored 16 points in the November setback before eventually helping the Jayhawks reach their seconds straight Final Four.

Kansas University's Aaron Miles, front, goes for a loose ball
against Florida's Anthony Roberson. The Gators beat the Jayhawks,
83-73, in the consolation game of the Preseason NIT on Friday in
New York.

Kansas University's Aaron Miles, front, goes for a loose ball against Florida's Anthony Roberson. The Gators beat the Jayhawks, 83-73, in the consolation game of the Preseason NIT on Friday in New York. by Scott McClurg/Journal-World Photos

Now the two basketball lifers are working together in the NBA. Collison said even with a coach as well known as Donovan, it takes working with someone to find out how well he might fit in. The 34-year-old power forward said Donovan already is learning a lot about the Thunder, its players and how the team needs to improve.

“He’s a very sharp guy. I think he’s going to do a good job,” Collison said.

While the 6-foot-10 backup big man and his OKC teammates have grown accustomed to Brooks and his staff the past several seasons, Collison said they need to be open to suggestions and changes with Donovan taking over.

“We’ve done things one way for a long time. A lot of things are going to be different. It doesn’t do any good to waste time fighting that,” Collison said. “We need to come in with the idea that we’re going to be open-minded, we need to get better and we need to buy into whatever the staff wants to do.”

Playing for a perennial title contender in Oklahoma City, Collison said the team has a lot of work to do after missing the playoffs this past season. The Thunder finished 45-37 and lost a tie-breaker with New Orleans for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. OKC surely would have won more games and perhaps made a deep postseason run had it not been forced to deal with so many injuries. Not a single player on the roster played in all 82 games. Star point guard Russell Westbrook missed 15 games, starting power forward Serge Ibaka missed 18 and franchise centerpiece Kevin Durant missed 55.

Collison said the Thunder always have had the pieces to be great and the team needs to improve defensively under Donovan to become even tougher to beat. Even though he described 2014-15 (Collison played in 66 of 82 games) as a struggle, the potential for next season seems limitless.

“There’s no guarantee that everyone is healthy all the time but we’re looking forward to having everybody back and are excited to play with the full squad again,” Collison said. “We have a ton of talent. We have a great roster. It’s going to hopefully be a really good year for us.”

Collison’s interview came after he spent some time talking hoops and the tricks of the up-and-under at the Thunder’s youth basketball camp

He said starting the summer with knee rehab should help him get to a good spot by the time the Thunder opens preseason camp this fall. As Collison’s knee gets stronger, he said he’ll add in more weight training. Once he’s cleared to get back to regular basketball activities, he’ll do a couple days of individual work and pickup games and take some days off for recovery.

“Knowing yourself in your 30’s, like the wise old man that I am,” joked Collison, who averaged a career low 4.1 points per game last season, “I think I have that figured out pretty well, a good mix, and I’ll be ready to go when camp starts.”

In the meantime, he knows the offseason is just as much about recharging your batteries after a long, draining campaign.

Kite surfers, @michaelcollison33, and I.

A photo posted by Nick Collison (@nicholascollison) on Jun 2, 2015 at 6:58pm PDT


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


Follow @BentonASmith on Twitter.

Reply

Nick Collison owes much of NBA longevity to time at KU

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson, center, fights for the ball with Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, left, and forward Nick Collison, right, in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. Oklahoma City won 103-94. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson, center, fights for the ball with Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, left, and forward Nick Collison, right, in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. Oklahoma City won 103-94. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

In the midst of his 11th season in the NBA, Nick Collison gives much of the credit for his ability to stick around and contribute for so long to growing up around the game and his time as a Kansas Jayhawk.

Collison recently spoke about his pre-professional days in a video feature produced by the only organization he has ever played for in The Association: the Oklahoma City Thunder (formerly the Seattle Super Sonics).

The video features footage from his prep days, including a pretty incredible interview with a very young-looking Collison, and, of course, highlights from his four years in crimson and blue.

Now a 6-foot-10, 255-pound veteran, Collison lived and breathed basketball growing up in Iowa, where his father, Dave, coached in the high school ranks.

“My last couple years of high school, I knew I was going to be able to play in college, and wanted to play in the NBA,” Collison shares, “so I think that’s when I really started taking it serious as a possible career.”

For more insight on his days at Kansas, the Thunder even track down the power forward’s KU coach, Roy Williams, now at North Carolina.

“First time I ever saw Nick Collison in a high school game was winning a state championship,” Williams says of the Iowa Falls native. “I though, ‘My gosh, what a complete player, what a competitive guy, what a leader out there on the court.’ I was just absolutely blown away.”

Collison went on to start in the 1999 McDonald’s All-American Game — played at Iowa State’s Hilton Coliseum, in his home state — for the West team, with Carlos Boozer, Jonathan Bender, Mike Dunleavy Jr., and Brett Nelson.

Why did he choose KU, instead of playing at Iowa or Iowa State, or someplace else?

“I realized that that would just be an incredible place for me to play, and Coach Williams would be a great coach to play for, and I started to look at it more of like, ‘How do I fit in ?’ and it just seemed like the best fit for me.”

Ku's Nick Collison (4) skies to block a shot by Iowa State's Omar
Bynum.

Ku's Nick Collison (4) skies to block a shot by Iowa State's Omar Bynum.

Collison says the aspects of his game he perfected at KU gave him an advantage over other role players once he got to the league, and allowed him to become the player he is.

“Everybody at this level is a great player and great athlete, but I’ve been able to stick around because my habits have been good and I’ve been able to be in the right place at the right time. And I owe a lot of that to Coach Williams and his staff.”

The former Kansas coach recalls how Collison led by his actions when he called Lawrence home. Williams marvels that the hard-working forward drew charges, sprinted back to play defense and dove on the floor without coaches asking him to do so.

“I don’t think I ever raised my voice at Nick Collison for four years. He made me a heck of a lot better coach. Won a lot of games because of his toughness, his competitiveness, his will to win.”

“He was such a good learner. He was a student of the game, and you explain things to him one time and showed it to him and he pretty much had it.”

Collison doesn’t play (16.1 minutes a game this season) or produce (3.9 points and 3.5 rebounds through 40 games) as much as he once did now that his career is winding down. But he says he always had a respect for the game and what it takes to play in the NBA.

“For me, that’s what really drives me. Knowing how fortunate I am to be at this level and how few people can get here.”

What’s more, Collison says he still knows this basketball thing is just a small part of the rest of his life

Check out the entire video from the Thunder:


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


Reply

2014-15 season outlook: Nick Collison

Hunker down, get hydrated and tell your loved ones you will see them next spring.

Hopefully that’s not your mindset, but people should be warned: The at times seemingly never-ending NBA regular season is at hand.

The first handful of games tip off October 28, marking the start of the 82-game grind.

Thankfully for us, all we have to do is sit back, watch and enjoy. To make sure you’re fully prepared for the 2014-15 campaign, we’ll be rolling out a season outlook for each former Kansas University player who currently calls The Association home.

Nick Collison — Oklahoma City Thunder

6-foot-10 power forward | 11th season

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison, right, defends San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan during the first half of an NBA playoff basketball game on Monday, May 19, 2014, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison, right, defends San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan during the first half of an NBA playoff basketball game on Monday, May 19, 2014, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

2013-14 numbers: 81 games | 16.7 minutes | 4.2 points | 3.6 rebounds | 55.6 FG% | 71 FT%

A quintessential role player with one of the NBA’s first-class organizations, Nick Collison has done dirty work since he showed up in the league a decade ago.

Now the question is: how much longer will we see Collison boxing out, rebounding and diving for loose balls in an Oklahoma City uniform?

He has never played fewer minutes per game than he did last season (16.7). Never averaged fewer points in a season (4.2). Never brought in fewer rebounds a game (3.6).

Collison, who turns 34 this week, actually has reached the point in his career that he can — and has been —described as “aging” in the headline of a story.

NewsOK.com’s Anthony Slater recently asked Collison, in the final year of his contract with the Thunder, about what lies ahead.

“Everyone, always, you think about the future,” Collison said. “But one thing I’ve learned over the years, you can’t really ask yourself an unanswerable question. Someone told me that once and I think that’s a good way to look at it.”

In terms of its frontcourt rotation, OKC is trending young. The past two years, the organization has drafted Steven Adams and Mitch McGary — both big men in the mold of Collison: tough, crafty, don’t need touches to be effective while blending in with a star-laden lineup (see: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka). Perry Jones continues to develop as a viable option at power forward, too.

Adams essentially is Nick Collison Version 2.0. Whomever edited Grantland’s Bill and Jalen’s 2014-15 NBA Preview can’t even tell the difference between the two of them.

None by Carson Cunningham

So it stands to reason Collison’s minutes and production could drop a little more this coming season as Oklahoma City tries to get out of the West and back to the NBA Finals after falling short two years in a row.

However his role forms, it’s obvious coach Scott Brooks trusts Collison in every situation. Here is what the head coach told NewsOK.com:

“You could put him for five minutes or for 35 minutes,” Brooks said. “He’s going to give you everything he has.”

Old? Maybe. Reliable. Of course. In Collison’s preseason debut Tuesday, he hit all three of his shots and scored eight points in 11 minutes versus Utah.

He even drilled a pair of 3-pointers. (He has hit five in his career.)

None by Anthony Slater

So what do we expect out of Collison for the 2014-15 season?

His stats might take a decline. But we could still see him on the floor in crunch time as OKC chases the No. 1 seed in the West and an NBA championship.

Collison won’t be the guy on SportsCenter’s Top 10. He’ll be the guy in perfect position under the boards, making sure his man can’t get the rebound.

And he might just have a new go-to shot. From downtown.


’Hawks in the NBA 2014-15 season outlooks:

• Cole Aldrich — Knicks

Darrell Arthur — Nuggets

Tarik Black — Rockets

Mario Chalmers — Heat


Follow @BentonASmith on Twitter

Reply

Thomas Robinson making his mark in Portland

Portland Trail Blazers' Thomas Robinson (41) scores against Minnesota Timberwolves' Gorgui Dieng (5) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. The Trail Blazers won 108-97. (AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens)

Portland Trail Blazers' Thomas Robinson (41) scores against Minnesota Timberwolves' Gorgui Dieng (5) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. The Trail Blazers won 108-97. (AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens)

Drafted by Sacramento, then traded to Houston during his rookie year, second-year power forward Thomas Robinson finally feels at home in the NBA with his third team, the Portland Trail Blazers.

As Robinson told John Wilmes of bleacherreport.com, he has embraced his role as a key reserve, even when his minutes aren't substantial — he's averaging 4.9 points and 4.3 rebounds in 12.4 minutes for Portland (49-27), currently the fifth-best team in a stacked Western Conference.

The former Kansas star enjoys providing a spark off the Blazers' bench.

“Last year, I was trying to make my role, going out of my way to prove something. You want to show everyone you can do something, that you can do can do everything at first.”

“I’m a high-energy player, a defender, and an offensive rebounder. Not a scorer. I love who I am to this team, I wouldn’t change anything.”


Nick Collison, the next WWE superstar

During Oklahoma City's Thursday victory over San Antonio, which ended the Spurs' 19-game winning streak, Thunder power forward Nick Collison, known for his dirty work, added to his reputation as one of the NBA's tough guys.

The Spurs' Jeff Ayers accidentally elbowed Collison in the head late in the third quarter, creating a gash atop Collison's noggin. It looked more like Collison had been walloped with a steel chair in a WWE match.

When the blood began to pour down his face, the NBA twitterverse took a break from the entertaining showdown between two Western Conference powers to marvel at the bloodbath.

None by SB Nation

None by NBA on ESPN

None by Red Cross Oklahoma

As you can see in the video, the contact didn't look nearly as bad as the result.

The gritty backup big man played 13 minutes in the OKC victory, scoring four points, and didn't return to the game after suffering the cut.

The best part of the whole ordeal, Collison told Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman, was that even though he needed staples in his head to stop the bleeding, it didn't feel all that bad.

“Really, I’m surprised it was bleeding. It hurt a little bit. It stung. But I saw blood coming down my nose so I knew I had to come out.”

"It was one of those ones that’s awesome because you get a ton of credibility from blood coming down your face. But it really wasn’t that big of a deal.”

After the game, Collison couldn't resist joking about the injury, via Instagram, saying: "I really shouldn't have popped that pimple in the game tonight. Sorry guys."


Kirk Hinrich likes the Windy City

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (12) drives against Atlanta Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll (5) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 2, 2014, in Atlanta. The Bulls won 105-92. (AP Photo/Jason Getz)

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (12) drives against Atlanta Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll (5) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 2, 2014, in Atlanta. The Bulls won 105-92. (AP Photo/Jason Getz)

Kirk Hinrich's two-year deal with Chicago runs out at the end of the season, but it sounds like he would prefer to remain with the Bulls going forward.

Before putting up 17 points and six assists in a Chicago win at Atlanta Wednesday, the 11th-year guard who has spent nine seasons with the Bulls told the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson there was a reason he signed with the franchise two summers ago, instead of taking more money to play in Milwaukee.

“I like it here. Obviously, returning home was a big factor in why I came back. I would like to stay here. But I don’t know what’s in their future plans. Right now, I’m just trying to enjoy it while I’m in it and take what comes later.”

"At this point of your career, you want to be on a team that is a good fit and has a chance to be a winner."

Despite the absence of Derrick Rose most of the season, the Bulls (43-32) currently sit in the No. 4 slot in the Eastern Conference, and could have home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.


'Hawks in the NBA standings

We're now less than two weeks away from the end of the regular season, so here's a look at where all of the NBA's Jayhawks stand in the hunt for the playoffs.

We'll rank the Kansas products according to their franchise's record.

No. 1 — Nick Collison/Oklahoma City (55-19)

  • Currently No. 2 seed in West

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 2 — Mario Chalmers/Miami (52-22)

  • Currently No. 1 seed in East

  • Clinched Southeast Division title/playoff berth

No. 3 — Thomas Robinson/Portland (49-27)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in West

No. 4 — Markieff Morris & Marcus Morris/Phoenix (44-31)

  • Currently 9th in West, with the same record as No. 8 Memphis

No. 5 — Kirk Hinrich/Chicago (43-32)

  • Currently No. 4 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 6 — Paul Pierce/Brooklyn (40-34)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 7 — Drew Gooden/Washington (39-36)

  • Currently No. 6 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 8 — Darrell Arthur/Denver (33-42)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 9 — Jeff Withey/New Orleans (32-43)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 10 — Cole Aldrich/New York (33-43)

  • Currently No. 8 seed in East, 0.02 percentage points ahead of Atlanta

No. 11 — Ben McLemore/Sacramento (27-48)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 12 — Xavier Henry/L.A. Lakers (25-50)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 13 — Brandon Rush/Utah (23-52)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.

Reply