Jason Collins has been signed by the Nets. His impact on the court will likely not be felt all that much, but his impact on sports will be felt for the rest of time. Collins will be the first openly gay basketball player to play in the NBA and many are commending Collins and supporting Collins in this groundbreaking time period.
Let's look at how Collins played in his first stint with the Nets.
Collins was acquired by the Nets on draft night 2001, after he was drafted by the Houston Rockets at 18. Collins was traded to the Nets with Brandon Armstrong and Richard Jefferson. Collins played six-and-a-half years with the Nets in New Jersey from 2001-2008. Collins appeared in the postseason six times, won two Eastern Conference Championships, and won four Atlantic Division Titles.
After starting 9 of his 71 games in his rookie season, Collins was the primary starting center for the Nets from 2002 on. Collins' best statistical season came in 2004. Collins played and started in 80 games that year, playing 31 minutes per game. He averaged six points and six rebounds per game.
Collins was not a dominant offensive player in New Jersey, averaging just four points and rebounds in his tenure there, but he was a fine defensive player. Collins posted a defensive rating of 102 in his time in Jersey, and had a defensive win share of 17.2. Defensive win shares are the amount of wins that are contributed by one's defense.
In the postseason, Collins received minimal time in the Nets' first run to the championship where they were swept by the Lakers. Collins, though, started all 20 of the Nets games in the 2003 postseason. In game six against the Spurs in the Finals, David Robinson, in what would be his final game, scored 13 points and grabbed 17 rebounds with Collins defending him.
Collins best post-season role came when the Nets upset the Raptors in the 2007 playoffs and he manhandled Chris Bosh, who complained to refs about Collins physical play. To quote an NBA scout after that series,
Collins is an underrated defender. He defended Bosh by himself in that series against Toronto and when you don't have to double the other team's best player, you're doing something well.
Sam Mitchell, then the Raptors coach, credited Collins for limiting Bosh, causing him to be indecisive and giving the Nets a defensive advantage.
Collins minutes became hard to come by as time wore on, and his knees became problematic. In particular, double knee surgery in 2005 to clean up scar tissue was surprisingly debilitating and left him in a great deal of pain. On February 4, 2008, he was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies for Stromile Swift.
NetsDaily provided a farewell to Collins back then, entitled, "Thank You, Twin."
Collins was a type of glue guy who filled out a two-time championship runner-up team. Now, he is expecting to fill out the Nets' rotation for the next few games and will not have as much of a burden that he did in his first campaign with the franchise.