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Atlanta Hawks roundtable: What are your expectations for John Collins in year two?

Looking at the intriguing young big man.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Atlanta Hawks Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

In the dog days of August, fresh NBA content can be sparse but Peachtree Hoops cuts through the silence for an off-season roundtable series centering on the Atlanta Hawks. Part four takes a glance at soon-to-be sophomore big man John Collins and what fans should expect in his second season.

  • Brad Rowland - Amusingly, I believe I’m higher on Collins than the national consensus and lower than the local consensus. That seems about right given my “brand” but this is a big season for Collins in potentially cementing his place as a full-blown starter moving forward. I seem to be on an island in believing Collins is (still) better suited as a center but, if his perimeter improvements prove to be real over the course of a full NBA season, he can slot in as a full-time power forward (with versatility to shift over when needed) and that might be helpful. His jump shot and perimeter defense will be interesting to monitor through that lens but I believe we’ll see growth from Collins.
  • Glen Willis - I think he is going to surprise NBA observers with how robust his offensive game is. The addition of Alex Len is also a tremendous fit. Last season, Collins played almost exclusively off of the basketball while players like Ersan Ilyasova operated in primary offensive action. This season, I expect we will see Len playing off the ball with Collins being involved more often in the primary offensive action. I am not going to be surprised if he leads the team in scoring. This season will be important from the standpoint of evaluating how much value he might be able to demonstrate defensively.
  • Graham Chapple - I’m excited, very very excited and his Summer League showing only helped amplifying that feeling. Now that it’s more about the journey under Lloyd Pierce than winning games under Mike Budenholzer, you’d imagine Collins features a lot more on offense this season and I’m excited to see where that goes. So my expectations are that Collins - packing a more diverse offensive game - averages closer to 13 or 14 points per game while grabbing eight or nine rebounds per game. Defensively, he’s been going in the right direction and under Lloyd Pierce I hope it’s still a priority.
  • Greg Willis - I expect his usage rate to go up as he becomes more of a focal part of the offense. That said, I expect him to struggle to adapt to a larger role. He will get more attention from opposing defenses than he did a year ago and he will draw stronger front court defenders as well. I’m high on Collins but I expect this to still be more of a development/adjustment year for Collins, especially in the early part of the season. If he starts the season slowly, don’t write him off.
  • Jeff Siegel - I’ve consistently been much lower on Collins than the majority of national analysts, but there certainly were encouraging signs in Summer League last month. Every time we see him, he flashes more of a perimeter game, which will serve him very well if he’s more of a power forward long-term. He’s going to have to be better to play the anchor role in the Hawks defense, but he’ll be a high-end bench big man at worst throughout his career and has some strong upside to be much better than that.
  • Josh Lane - I am excited to see how much his offensive game has grown. Outside of Atlanta, John Collins is seen as a dunker. I am very interested to see if his three point shot is a real thing.
  • Rashad Milligan - I expect Collins to really step up as a leader this year. I also see Pierce’s influence on him to result in better defending as well. This past Summer League and the tail of last season definitely boosted his confidence on the floor and he should average 12 and 10 this year. I don’t expect him to expand his range too much contrary to past Hawks big men because he still has work to do with his back to the basket. Hopefully, he’s worked offensively more down low than out on the perimeter.
  • Sam Meredith - John Collins came out of almost nowhere last season with his defensive game in a way that was so unexpected that it made him look like a consensus top 10 pick if there were a re-draft. Defense is where I am most excited to see Collins take the next step this season. In Lloyd Pierce’s defense, Collins will be put to the test by switching onto smaller forwards occasionally and being asked to guard the three point line. We all know about John’s offensive game, which is going to play no matter what, but I am most intrigued to see how much better his defense has gotten. If you’ll recall, there was another young forward a couple years ago for the Hawks who began playing solid perimeter defense along with a similar offensive repertoire to Collins who is now a consensus top 30 player in the league for the Celtics...
  • Xavier Cooper - I expect Collins to be a different player offensively. He looks like he’s gotten better from long range and I don’t think other teams will expect him to shoot it as much as he probably will with a seemingly carefree coach in Lloyd Pierce. He’s super aggressive going to the rim and has the potential to draw a plethora of fouls. If Collins hits his free throws at a decent percentage, he could score 6-8 points a game from the free throw line alone. It’ll all depend on how many touches he can get off of pick and roll situations and if he’s gained some moves in the post. Collins could average 15 points per game and 10 rebounds with full starting minutes but he has to be fed the ball. Collins isn’t a guy who looks to put the ball on the floor and take it himself too often. The point guards will have to help get him involved. I also have confidence that Collins will at least give a greater effort on defense. I’m not sure if that’ll necessarily result in him being a better defender statistically or having a positive impact on the team.
  • Zach Hood - I have come around on Collins, though I will admit I didn’t see a clear path to him becoming a legitimate starter until I saw how far along he’s came on offense in the Summer League. While I still don’t expect him to be throw-it-in-the-post type scorer, it appears he has extended his range quite a bit, and he also looked more fluid in every aspect of the game this summer. I expect Collins to be a quality starting power forward in the 15 points, 12 rebounds per game type range with high efficiency. Collins should theoretically never shoot a bad shot, between drop off dunks/layups and wide open kick out threes.