In the doldrums of summer, the Peachtree Hoops staff came together for a 10-part roundtable series, answering a series of prompts with an eye toward the upcoming season for the Atlanta Hawks.
Part eight answers a two-man question.
Jeff Siegel: Trae Young is the answer because he plays the most important position/role in the league. Anybody who has the ball in his hands as much as Young will this season is going to be the team’s most important player and, as long as he doesn’t get off to a horrible October and November, he’s going to be the best player as well. Collins is the only other player in Young’s stratosphere going into the season, but Collins is so heavily reliant on Young offensively that a great Collins season is likely going to come with a great Young season as well. There’s a possibility that Collins takes a leap as a playmaker and scorer in his own right, but that may be a longer-term project than just next year.
Graham Chapple: Ooof… it’s hard to call between Young and Collins. I’ll go with John Collins but it’s like asking me to choose between The Deathly Hallows Part 1 and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 — I like both for different reasons and they’re equally good. With Collins’ game continuing to expand, his scoring ability continuing to improve and his defensive instincts improving (he showcased this towards the end of the season), Collins has more potential to be a better two-way player. Young... maybe not so much on the defensive end. Again, both have their strengths but I’m going with Collins on this one.
Rashad Milligan: I’m going to go a ledge here and say Young.
Zach Hood: Trae Young. He controls roughly 30 percent of the game (basically the entire offense, when he’s on the floor). He’s the equivalent of a starting pitcher in baseball, if they could pitch every game. I think he was their best player last season, and the main reason players like John Collins and Dewayne Dedmon enjoyed so much offensive success. This one legitimately is not even close for me. Take Young off the floor, and they have no closer or primary facilitator. You can crunch numbers and talk about how Collins had the better on/off court ratings last season, but please put on the fourth quarter of one of the upset wins Atlanta enjoyed last season and tell me who was better or more essential to those wins than Trae Young?
Toby Adeyemi: The best player on the team will be a 1A/1B situation with Collins and Young. They both could average 20 and 10, and they both will play the most minutes for the squad. I expect Collins to have the better stat line as he’ll add a block and steal defensively. But then it could be argued about Young’s impact as he’ll have the ball in his hands primarily. Young will also be their designated closer too. If I had to choose, I’d anoint Young as 1A, only because he’ll be making all the decisions when the game is on the line.
Sam Meredith: John Collins was better than Young was last season. I think that gap will close some this season, but Collins is the type of guy that can take over a game for a team. He needs to get the ball more often this season around the basket.
Matt Harris: Give me Young. I think he’s got that “I’m the guy” attitude and John Collins is his only competition for best player. In a game that favors perimeter options, I like Young to be the best player for the iteration of the Hawks, even if Collins may be the most important.
Glen Willis: It’s going to be so close between Collins and Young. I think I will give the nod to Collins because Young will be adjusting his ball distribution to a lot of new players this season and it could look awkward at times. What Collins is good at is not nearly as impacted by moving parts.
Andrew Kelly: Trae Young is the most indispensable player on the roster, and if he were to miss time, the Hawks would be in for a world of hurt. Everything flows through him, but he still has some questions surrounding his efficiency and his defensive struggles are well documented. For these reasons, I’ll go with John Collins. I’ve already touted him as an All Star, and I think he can hold off Young for the title of the best player on the team for one more season.
Dylan Hughes: Trae Young’s playing style makes it impossible for me to say anyone other than him. His pull-up shooting and passing as a rookie made him one of the toughest offensive players in the league to corral. If he hits the ground running this year, he’s going to the moon.
Greg Willis: Trae Young will be very good and very exciting to watch, but I expect Collins to be the best all-around player on this team. Opponents will look to force the ball out of Trae’s hands and he generally made good decisions when facing traps and double teams down the stretch of his rookie season. If Collins can avoid an early-season injury like he experienced last season, he should find his rhythm early in the season and build from there.
Brad Rowland: It’s obviously a two-man race. I’m on record as saying that Collins was notably better than Young last season (at least in the aggregate) and, at the very least, that gap is going to close. It’ll come down to the way Collins defends but, when forced to pick, I’ll roll with Young and predict that he puts together a more consistent campaign while carrying an immense offensive workload.