John Collins was tremendous in Summer League and that produced plenty of expectations from fans of the Atlanta Hawks. While he isn’t cemented in the starting lineup in the same way that some rookies (like Lonzo Ball, Dennis Smith Jr. and Ben Simmons) might be, Collins has been included in the Rookie of the Year mix from a handicapping perspective and he has the profile to make a big splash.
Now, Collins has spoken with Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders and, in short, the former Wake Forest star believes he can be a “sleeper pick” for the award.
“Obviously I want to be Rookie of the Year. I think I’m a sleeper pick for that. Hopefully, I can prove everybody wrong.”
It isn’t a surprise that an athlete with Collins’ pedigree would be motivated to prove skeptics wrong but, within the same interview, he revealed that “being under-the-radar” is something he has experience with in a big way.
“I think I’ve done it my whole life. Being under-the-radar and then coming out and then really, truly playing my game. I think that’s been something I’ve done my whole life. Obviously, it’s at the highest level now, but I believe in myself and I know I’m capable of doing that, so no problems.”
At the end of the day, Rookie of the Year pursuits are usually driven by statistical production and Collins has the ability to stuff the box score with scoring and rebounding if given the opportunity. There is a reason he is seen, at least by Las Vegas, as something of a long-shot to take home the award but early returns on his playing time (at least in the preseason) are encouraging.
It isn’t the craziest thing in the world to think that Collins could hang around in the ROY race if (and only if) Mike Budenholzer is willing to deploy him for consistent minutes. If that happens, the numbers will follow and Collins should be able to produce a few memorable plays (i.e. dunks) to keep his name in the mix throughout the season.