FRISCO, Texas — The 2017-18 NBA G-League season began two weeks earlier than last season, but Kyle Collinsworth isn't complaining.
That’s because Collinsworth, 26, is coming off a debut campaign with the Texas Legends during which the BYU product averaged 6.5 points, 7 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.8 steals in 36 games, numbers he looks to better in year two.
“Yeah, I kind of like it (the earlier start), (let’s) just start playing. The NBA’s playing, that’s where we want to be, so we’re like, let’s just tip this thing off, maximize our opportunities and make it to the NBA,” he said last week. “It’s always fun to play real games.”
Collinsworth is one of seven returning players for the Legends, the Mavericks’ affiliate that finished 25-25 last season, the franchise’s best mark since moving from Colorado in 2009. In addition to having so many returning teammates, he’ll again be playing for second-year Legends coach Bob MacKinnon Jr., one of the circuit’s most experienced and respected coaches.
MacKinnon is happy to have Collinsworth back for another season.
“He just does everything," MacKinnon said of Collinsworth. "He’s like Inspector Gadget, anything you need done, he does, and he plays so hard. He’s got a great feel for the game. If you’re his teammate, you love playing with him because he gets guys shots, he helps people out on defense, he knows where everyone’s supposed to be at all times, he talks, he’s a terrific teammate. He can play at the NBA level with all that.”
The respect is mutual.
“I love playing for Coach. His expectations are very clear and he’s a big-time players' coach,” Collinsworth said. “He keeps it real. If you’re doing great, he’ll tell you and if you’re not, he’ll tell you. I love that. We can talk, we can communicate at a high level and at the end of the day, all he expects is for you to do your best, give your best effort day in day out.”
Collinsworth’s focus during the offseason was on taking as many shots as possible so he could expand his range and become more consistent. One byproduct of his rookie season is that he now feels more decisive than ever before.
But that isn’t his only takeaway from last season. “(I also learned) just to play hard and play to my strengths. For my position, I could rebound really well,” he said. “I’m hoping to just be someone Coach can rely on for energy and effort every night.”
Collinsworth’s ultimate goal, of course, is to reach the NBA and to become the first BYU product to play in the Association since Jimmer Fredette. And should he get a coveted call-up to the NBA, it will allow him to represent the Cougars at basketball’s highest level and to display his continuing progression.
“I think (my years at BYU) was just a time to establish my strengths, what makes me tick. I think once I was able to figure that out and be able to put on paper what makes me unique, that helped me understand in games when things aren’t going well how to get myself going, how to be productive, especially in situations, at different positions,” Collinsworth said. “I just really learned about my strengths and I relied on them my first year as a rookie. I’m excited to expand the things I worked on in my offseason and keep expanding my game.”
Stephen Hunt is a freelance writer based in Frisco, Texas.