Fans of the Atlanta Hawks are already in love with rookie John Collins and that isn’t a surprise considering the show that he put on in the Las Vegas Summer League. In many situations, local fan bases are more likely to be excited than those who cover the NBA on a national basis but, with Collins, the accolades continue to roll in, even as August arrives.
This time, Mike Schmitz of ESPN (and formerly of DraftExpress) included the former Wake Forest product on his list of six rookies “most likely to outshine their NBA draft pick” and he had this to say about his upside.
He projects as a dynamic pick-and-roll finisher who can also make a short-roll jumper and punish switches on the block with turnarounds or jump hooks. He's the first big down the floor every possession, a relentless offensive rebounder and a positive on the defensive glass as well, which will help ease his transition picking up NBA-level defensive schemes. Although his game may not exactly fit the modern NBA, the 19-year-old produces, plays with energy and is one of the most explosive athletes in this rookie class, all of which should combine to result in a lottery-level season for the former Demon Deacon.
The reference to “his transition picking up NBA-level defensive schemes” is an important one, simply because the biggest question with Collins comes on that end. With that said, the pick-and-roll (and eventual pick-and-pop) ability that Collins has displayed is wildly encouraging and everyone agrees that he will be a potentially dominant force on the glass based on his college and Summer League performance.
Later in the peace, Schmitz references potential “growing pains with the speed of the game on both ends” and that he “doesn't exactly fit the shoot/dribble/pass style the Hawks want to play.” In the same breath, he acknowledges that Collins brings a level of athleticism and explosion that no member of Atlanta’s frontcourt can match. Lastly, it is important to recognize (and remember) that outperforming a draft slot at No. 19 is different than doing so in the top 10.
If Collins becomes even a high-end role player in the NBA, that would provide a great deal of value after he slipped all the way to the Hawks in the 2017 NBA Draft. If he can become a firmly entrenched starter, it is a very successful pick. If Collins becomes even a fringe star? It’s an unequivocal home run.
Only time will tell but the rave reviews continue from pundits around the league and the anticipation is building for John Collins.