Zach Collins has not been a name that Atlanta Hawks fans have focused on in advance of the 2017 NBA Draft and there is one easy reason for that. He probably won’t be available when the Hawks pick at No. 19 overall.
However, Chris Johnson of Sports Illustrated put together a mock draft and, in his scenario, Atlanta receives one of the biggest steals of the draft as Collins falls into their lap.
This selection smacks the steal-fit sweetspot: Not only does Collins address a positional need considering the forthcoming free agencies of Paul Millsap, Kris Humphries and Mike Muscala (to say nothing of veteran center Dwight Howard’s expressed unhappiness with his playing time), the Hawks would be adding him toward the back end of the first round, 10 spots below his placement on our Big Board.
Collins’s first-round buzz really picked up steam during Gonzaga’s run to the national championship game this spring, but neither his rapid rise, nor his inability to consistently stay out of foul trouble, should spook new general manager Travis Schlenk.
As noted by Johnson, this would be a massive bargain for the Hawks and, again, it doesn’t appear likely. While Collins is not a consensus top-10 player by any means, mock drafts that place the former Gonzaga big man outside of the top 15 picks are few and far between.
Still, the Hawks have a reported preference for big men in this class and Collins is a step above the tier led by Jarrett Allen of Texas and Justin Patton of Creighton. From a fit standpoint, Collins is athletic and skilled enough to function well as an offensive center in the NBA, and he brings shooting touch to the table as well. Defensively, Collins is capable of showing in pick-and-roll and protecting the rim, using his length to deter opponents.
The Atlanta Hawks probably won’t have the option to select Zach Collins without trading up in the NBA Draft. If they do, though, it should be a no-brainer.