When a good player gets hurt or goes down with an injury, usually a player (and in some cases an entire team) have to step up and fill the void left or the whole season will collapse in on itself.
Now imagine how difficult it would be to fill in for a great player.
Now a top 5 player. Pretty tough, right?
But that is exactly what the Hornets and Darren Collison had to do since CP3 got his knee hurt until he just came back against the Spurs (and even then, Collison had to do the heavy lifting). Paul is undeniably a top-tier talent, capable of commandeering entire games and lifting an average team to new heights that rationality would suggest were not possible.
That is a pretty tall order for a rookie who was drafted with the intent of spelling Paul with as minimal of a drop off in team performance as possible. That in itself is tough, like saying to a new guy “hey, Kobe is a little tired, why don’t you go in and drop a dozen on them?”
But Collison is tough, quick, and has a grasp on the game. He, along with David West and Marcus Thorton, have kept the Hornets from being prematurely eliminated and laughed at throughout the league. They have made more than a few of the top teams sweat during hotly contested games. Take this into consideration, since Collison became the starter he has averaged 18.2 and 9. Yeah, thats ROY numbers if he played that out over the entire season and not the one truncated by Paul’s exit and reentrance.
Now before I get a little looney, he isn’t Chris Paul. He isn’t great enough to have supplanted CP3 as the Hornets point guard. However, he may have given Hornets management pause when considering the future. That perhaps maybe Collison’s tremendous play coupled with Paul’s troubling knee problem along with the economic situation in New Orleans, maybe they keep Collison and trade Paul.
I know, its blasphemous, heresy, on the border of treason. But it has been suggested that the Hornets were already in discussions to trade Collison in this offseason or next, striking while the proverbial iron is hot. But common sense suggests that they could get for more in return for Paul than DC. And Collison at least seems capable enough to manage a successful team, especially with the wealth of talent a Paul trade would secure (top players and/or draft picks).
That felt dirty. How can a team trade a certified top-10 player, easily argued into top-5 territory, either the best or second best point guard in the league, and a player who owns perspective along with fancy clothes and nice rides? I don’t know.
I wouldn’t do it, you would be run out of town. And this talk of Collison and Paul together in the same backcourt? I don’t envision a way in which this would be feasible. They are both tremendously quick, which would help, but they each lack the size of a legitimate 2 guard. This is why Ben Gordon and Derrick Rose weren’t stifling Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo in last year’s playoff series. Plus, Collison is at his best, as is Paul, when he has the ball in his hands and operating the offense. Now you want one of them to play off the ball at all times, waiting to be set up for the shot.
That doesn’t exactly seem viable.
The odds are one of them has to go this next offseason, and only a fool would believe that Paul would be the one forced out of town, unless his knee is completely wrecked. But maybe not, maybe they could have the best point guard duo in the league, for whatever that is worth.