ROOKIE OF THE YEAR WATCH (3/8)
CANDIDATES

Stephen Curry, Warriors, point guard

Season stats: 35.9 minutes, 16.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.79 steals, 3.0 turnovers, percentages (.455, .417, .878)
March stats: 41.0 minutes, 19.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.4 steals, 4.4 turnovers, percentages (.405, .484, .923)
Monday’s game (Hornets 135, Warriors 131): 34 minutes, 12 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 4 turnovers (5-13, 2-4, 0-0)
Next game: Thursday, March 11, vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 7:30 p.m.

Tyreke Evans, Kings, guard

Season stats: 37.1 minutes, 20.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.52 steals, 2.91 turnovers, percentages (.463, .261, .744)
March stats: 37.8 minutes, 20.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.8 steals, 3.3 turnovers, percentages (.414, .300, .613)
Monday’s game: Did not play
Next game: Tuesday, March 9, at Portland Trail Blazers, 7 p.m.

Darren Collison, Hornets, guard

Season stats: 24.8 minutes, 11.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.03 steals, 2.48 turnovers, percentages (.465, .358, .840)
March stats: 45.5 minutes, 18.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, 12.8 assists, 2.5 steals, 4.3 turnovers, percentages (.569, .500, .667)
Monday’s game (Hornets 135, Warriors 131): 46 minutes, 16 points, 1 rebound, 20 assists, 3 steals, 7 turnovers, (7-12, 2-3, 0-2)
Next game: Wednesday, March 10, at Oklahoma City Thunder, 5 p.m.

Worth noting: Collison obviously won the night Monday. I had seen highlights, but this was the first time I had seen Collison play. It’s an understatement that I came away impressed. Does he exceed Curry’s court vision? You don’t want to base too much analysis on just one game, but Collison’s ability to push the tempo and set up teammates was very impressive.

Collison’s surprising star turn in the lineup this season has created a minor issue for the Hornets. Mirroring the situation the Warriors have with Monta Ellis and Curry but on a more talented level, Collison and Chris Paul can’t play together. They both need to control the offense to be most effective and pairing them together would be a defensive liability. If you care about winning, you can’t start both players together. However, the talent level of each player dictates that both should be starting. So, the Hornets should either look to capitalize on Collison’s impressive play and trade him, or they could see the several inexpensive years remaining on Collison’s rookie contract, decide to plant him in the starting lineup as the Hornets’ future point guard, and put Chris Paul on the market. Paul would demand outrageous trade interest around the league and he would bring back a ridiculous package of talent. One one hand, knowing that you have a dynamic young talented point guard already in place to replace Paul, you could trade Paul and get the kind of talent in return that would allow you to shape your roster as a championship contender. On the other hand, you take the risk of trading away Chris Paul and regretting it the rest of his career. What would you do if you were in charge of the Hornets?

Curry was not very good in this game, but I wouldn’t put too much stock in it. Unfortunately, because it was against Collison and because Collison was so outstanding in this game, Curry’s performance got a little more play from the national media than it would have otherwise. But as I wrote before, one game is nothing. Curry outplayed Evans the last time they played, a few people in the media mentioned it, and that was it. It didn’t propel Curry into the forefront of the ROY race, it didn’t make the national NBA audience change their minds and label Curry the better player of the two. It was one game. Just like Monday night. Right now, Curry is still a better player than Collison.

One thing that bothered me was a stat I read in Marcus Thompson’s game recap. He wrote that Curry snapped his consecutive minutes streak at 108. I know the Warriors are short-handed, but I don’t think it’s wise to play Curry those kind of minutes. The division of minutes we saw in Monday’s game was better. Curry only played 34 minutes and no available player played less than 18 minutes. Curry is a rookie and isn’t used to playing this long a schedule. Playing him consistently for more than 40 minutes a game (or 108 in a row) could affect his play, or worse, lead to injury. Let’s keep the minutes to a manageable amount and finish out this season without any more setbacks.

Postnote: Reggie Williams (28 points) is a good player. He should stick around.