The Atlanta Hawks have operated without John Collins for most of the preseason and the first nine regular season games. While the club managed to escape with three victories in those contests, the absence of the second-year big man is felt each time Lloyd Pierce’s team takes the floor and that leaves many (anxiously) awaiting an update on Collins’ injury status.
When the team released its last official update, Collins was set to be re-evaluated on Sunday, Nov. 4, citing continued progress “from mild inflammation and soreness in his left ankle.” On Monday, Chris Vivlamore of the AJC reported that Collins has not yet returned to full practice and “will miss several more games” as a result.
Later on Monday, Pierce shared a bit of insight at the team’s practice, including the fact that Collins will travel on the team’s road trip to the west coast (beginning Sunday in Los Angeles) and could return before the final game of the trip in Indiana on Nov. 17.
Lloyd Pierce on John Collins' status. Said Collins will travel on the West Coast trip, even if he doesn't play early in the trip, but hopeful that he can be back by later in the trip. pic.twitter.com/OtrpDTy9l1— Kevin Chouinard (@KLChouinard) November 5, 2018
Collins was also spotted doing individual work at Monday’s practice.
John Collins is here getting some work in. pic.twitter.com/VNatpuX2n2— Kevin Chouinard (@KLChouinard) November 5, 2018
By afternoon, the Hawks announced an official update for Collins, indicating that he did, in fact, have a follow-up examination over the weekend. The release says Collins “has progressed to modified on-court drills and shooting routines with the goal of integrating him into modified team practice in the coming week,” though no further detail on his return is present.
Without Collins available to this point, the Hawks have turned to Vince Carter, Omari Spellman and Alex Poythress for the lion’s share of minutes at the power forward position. Spellman made the first start of his NBA career on Saturday, though it was Carter that finished the evening on the floor.
Upon return, Collins will almost certainly resume a full workload as the team’s incumbent starting power forward, with the potential that he could function as a center in certain lineups. While his long-term role remains up for debate (at least to some degree), there is no question that the Hawks need his talents at the 4 and, simply put, Collins is by far the most explosive athlete on the roster on both ends of the floor.
Still, it appears that Collins will not be on the floor as early as player, team and fan base would prefer and this is an ongoing situation. Stay tuned.