Dallas Mavericks two-way player and former Texas Legends star Kyle Collinsworth is many things. He’s a dynamic, versatile, 6 foot 6 guard who can bring the ball up the floor or start the break with his own rebound. In 2017 he worked harder than ever before to be a better player than he had been even during his historical college career –his 12 triple-doubles at BYU is an NCAA record– but he also added something else, something unexpected to the mix.
Kyle Collinsworth became a clairvoyant.
“In August, I wrote a journal entry and I dated it December 31st,” says the 26-year old. “I wrote it in August, dated it December 31st and I started the journal entry by saying ‘I’m so blessed to have played in five NBA games so far.’ By December 31st, I had played in five NBA games.”
That story, even I had to register it twice, is indeed true. Not only did Collinsworth predict his NBA dream coming true nearly five months in advance, stranger things have happened, but he said he would have played five NBA games come December 31st.
He got it exactly right. “It was surreal to see that come into fruition. Just the power of visualizing what you want.
“It was pretty cool, too, because November in the G League I was playing alright. On paper, I wasn’t on pace to be there by December 31st but I just kept working. I had a six or seven game span where I really played well.”
The emerging Collinsworth even went as far as to tell a friend not to come see him when the Legends visited Salt Lake City on January 2nd. “One of my buddies was going to get tickets but I kept telling him, ‘don’t. I’m not gonna be there.’ It was pretty cool to see the power of belief and see things before they actually happen.”
The newest Dallas Maverick signed a two-way contract with the team on December 19th after spending a season and change with the Legends, including a trip to Mavs training camp. The call he had pictured happening his entire life came from the exact source he would want: Legends coach Bob MacKinnon.
“I was just in my hotel and Coach Mac called me at like midnight and said ‘you got called up, congrats, pack your stuff and be at the practice facility at 9:30 tomorrow.’ I packed all my stuff, woke up like a kid on Christmas morning, started practice that day and jumped right in.”
Collinsworth, a true believer of life, religion and his craft, spent two years in Russia on a mission trip between his freshman and sophomore years at BYU. His cover-all-bases personality has helped him become a charitable fan favorite as well as one of the world’s premiere basketball players.
His NBA journey is the icing on a cake that is still very much baking. “It’s a lot of new stuff but I’ve been keeping the same mindset I had in the G League. Taking it one day at a time, controlling what I can control and just working hard. Those are the three things I really just focus on. Just filling my mind full of gratitude for the opportunity, staying grateful and working hard.”
After Coach MacKinnon delivered the news, Collinsworth himself placed an equally elated call to his wife, brothers and parents. “They were pumped. It’s kind of surreal. We grew up big Mavericks fans as a family. We used to watch all the games. I would get NBA TV for my birthday every year so I could watch the Mavs. To be in the NBA has always been a dream of mine but to be on the Mavericks is surreal.”
You read that right. The clairvoyance of Collinsworth knows no limits. Many years before he would call Dirk Nowitzki a teammate, he chose to follow the Mavericks because of him, Steve Nash and the rest of the turnofthecentury Mavericks.
“I could tell you all the wins, losses, I can tell you everything. It was because of Dirk, Nash, Michael Finley and when they had Raef Lafrentz and Eddie Najera, all those cats.”
They say don’t meet your idols, but NBA rookies meeting Nowitzki seems to only go one way. “He’s awesome. He’s a great guy. He’s super nice and he’s hilarious. He’s like a giant kid just always cracking jokes. Just super funny and just a big time competitor. Once you cross those lines and it’s time to play he just wants to win. That’s what makes him so great.”
From his sophomore to senior season, Collinsworth averaged 14.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.4 blocks and had six triple-doubles in his junior and senior season en route to winning the West Coast Conference Player of the Year in his final collegiate season. Just like his idol Steve Nash two decades prior.
For Coach MacKinnon’s Legends, he played 27.3 minutes in 36 games in 2016-2017. Coming back with soaring confidence –and most importantly healthy– he’s averaged 11.4 points, 8.6 rebounds (2.8 offensive), 4.8 assists and 1.7 steals in 18 games so far in 2017-2018.
His final six games with Texas before his call-up went as follows: 38 minutes, 18.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 2.2 steals, 61 percent shooting (45/74); four straight double-doubles (three point-rebound, one point-assist). Twice he came just an assist shy of a triple-double.
The G League helps every player it holds, but Collinsworth found additional mentoring with MacKinnon in Frisco. “He’s the reason I’m where I’m at. Just trusting me, giving me opportunities and minutes. The first year I started off slow then I started picking it up but had a bad injury with my ankle. Things weren’t looking good and everybody’s like ‘maybe just go overseas, give up the NBA dream and make some money.’”
When in doubt, the young player would consult his trusted coach. “Me and Coach Mac would talk a lot, he’d tell me ‘you’re an NBA player, keep going.’ I knew that too, but he told me to keep going. To come back and we can make it happen. I had a big offseason, put in a ton of work and it translated. I’ve been blessed enough to stay healthy so far and it’s been great.”
The life-changing signing arrived on December 19th. The debut came in a home game with the Mavs hosting the Detroit Pistons. 39 seconds into the second quarter he got the call.
“Into the game for the Mavs…Kyle Collinsworth!”
At the 7:20 mark, Collinsworth received a pass from J.J. Barea and teed up a three-pointer, hitting nothing but the very bottom of the net.
“It was surreal. You know, just no hesitation from me. That’s what I worked on all offseason, my shot, to have that be my first NBA points from the three-point line. Just no hesitation, nothing but net, it was awesome.”
Collinsworth’s game is impressively built, but his jump shot has been the question mark above all others. That question was answered with exclamation in his first NBA moments. In 13 minutes, he added a rebound and steal to round out a stellar debut.
Win or lose, chemistry has never been questioned with the Dallas Mavericks. For this rookie, it means some playful hazing was in store. His first day with the team, an early Christmas present was waiting in his locker: a Moana backpack.
“I show up and it was sitting in my locker. Devin Harris told me, ‘wear that and don’t take it off. Wear it on the road, wear it to dinner, wear it everywhere you go.’ Moana and I have been hanging out, she’s been with me on this journey as my backpack. It’s been great to have somebody by me at all times…she’s always got my back.” Literally.
Physical tools are a necessity to make it in the G League and then the NBA. However, the Legend-turned-Mav attributes what’s between his ears just as much as what he’s worked with on hours end in the gym.
“I’ve obviously put in a ton of physical work, but I think the edge for me was the mental work. Visualizing all the stuff. Visualizing me being in the NBA. Visualizing the call-up. I think that was what put me over the edge. Me being able to visualize things and actually believing it, and being grateful for it as if it already happened. That work for me was crucial, putting in the extra time mentally.”
Whether he saw it coming or not, Kyle Collinsworth’s NBA career has officially begun. It’s been a journey worth sharing and a story that is, perhaps in his own penmanship, still being written.