John Collins is back after a two-week injury absence and, non-coincidentally, the Atlanta Hawks are much more entertaining as a result. The talented rookie from Wake Forest provides memorable highlights on a near-nightly basis and, more importantly, Collins has performed extremely well in the first two months of his NBA career.
In fact, Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report handed out grades to each first round pick and, in unsurprising fashion, Collins earned an “A” for his showing.
Even without the flashy scoring skills, John Collins continues to efficiently produce, quickly jumping out to lead all rookies averaging at least 15 minutes after having led the nation last year in player efficiency rating.
He's picking up buckets and boards by tapping into his explosive leaping and timing. Shooting 68.2 percent inside five feet, Collins is generating 3.5 points per game as a roll man, the same amount as Blake Griffin, and he's top 10 in the NBA in points per game off cuts.
Collins hasn't taken many jumpers, but he's making 46.7 percent of the ones he's attempting in the 15-19-foot range.
His 17.8 rebounding percentage also leads all rookies.
Collins could stand to improve his defensive IQ, as well as his post game and shooting range. But after his first two months as a pro, he leads the Atlanta Hawks rotation in box plus-minus.
As Wasserman notes, Collins’ numbers have been off the charts and, even with the stated caveat on his defense, the 20-year-old is well ahead of schedule on that end of the floor. If anything, the Hawks could likely use more of Collins in that his teammates must get acclimated to his skill set and some of that, simply put, is likely due to the reality that he is the only player on the roster that presents this particular level of athleticism and gravity.
Something of a “rookie wall” could be on the way for Collins as it is for many first-year players in the NBA. However, it would be difficult to argue that the investment of the No. 19 overall pick has been anything but a smashing success to this point and this is yet another reminder of that from a national source.