John Collins has been tremendous in the early portion of his first NBA season and that isn’t up for much debate. There are question marks for the former Wake Forest star in typical fashion of a first-year player but, on the whole, the Atlanta Hawks seem to have nailed the No. 19 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
However, things were taken to a new level on Friday, as an ESPN “panel of experts” voted on a bevy of awards with the benefit of one month’s worth of data. While the Hawks received some attention in the sub-optimal category of “Which team will finish with the worst record?” this time around, Collins was included with some off-the-charts praise from at least one analyst.
In short, someone indicated that Collins would be their pick at No. 1 overall if the draft was re-executed today.
There is plenty to sift through here, including some leftover love for Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball and a sharp turn against the actual No. 1 pick in Philly’s Markelle Fultz. Still, it is only Collins that made the leap from outside the lottery to consideration here and that speaks volumes.
In 15 games this season, Collins is averaging 10.6 points (on 56.3 percent true shooting) and 7.3 rebounds per game in 21.1 minutes of action per contest. Those numbers are obviously quite impressive on a per-minute basis and, with that and his overall explosion, Collins is receiving quite a bit of attention for a player on a struggling team.
Still, it is another thing entirely to be tossed into the mix with Boston’s Jayson Tatum (who has been quite impressive) and others for this “honor” and at least one analyst on the ESPN staff seems to be in love with John Collins in the way that many Hawks fans already are at this early stage.