The Atlanta Hawks received positive marks when they selected former Wake Forest big man John Collins with the No. 19 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. However, expectations were relatively moderate given Collins’ placement in the draft pecking order... at least until Las Vegas Summer League.
Now, after three strong performances, the national media are taking note of Collins in a big way. First, Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated weighed in.
Unsurprisingly, given the college season he just had, Collins is averaging a double-double and has been among the more productive bigs in Vegas. He fell on draft night over concerns about his overall NBA readiness and maturity, but in the Summer League environment, it matters not. Collins has great hands, rebounds well and has displayed good touch from mid-range. He’ll have ample opportunity to shine as the Hawks rebuild and looks like a worthwhile project.
The overwhelming theme of Collins’ breakout in Las Vegas has been that, well, he should have every chance to build on it in the regular season. Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com then doubled down on Atlanta’s need for frontcourt play in describing Collins.
Talk about a promising first step in filling the instant need for big men in Atlanta. Collins opened with three consecutive games of double-digit rebounding while scoring eight, 22 and 15 points and shooting a combined 60 percent. He could finish first among the entire Las Vegas field, not just rookies, on the boards.
Finally, Kevin Pelton of ESPN shed light on the style change that Collins is already undergoing in transitioning from a post player to a do-everything, athletic big in the NBA.
After developing as a traditional post player at Wake Forest, Collins has to employ a new style to succeed in the NBA.
He has shown that ability this week, playing well as a center for the Hawks' summer league team. Collins has pulled down double-figure rebounds in all three games while shooting 60 percent from the field, highlighted by 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting against New Orleans.After developing as a traditional post player at Wake Forest, Collins has to employ a new style to succeed in the NBA.
It is (very) important to note that Summer League can be tantalizing, especially for a prospect that is reliant on athleticism in the way that Collins has been in Las Vegas. Still, he is averaging more than 15 points and 10 rebounds per game with off-the-charts efficiency (top-5 in Summer League PER) and it would be difficult to ask for anything more from the young big man. In short, the Atlanta Hawks may have picked up an exceptional value with John Collins.