All the talk has been about Trae Young through the first 23 games of the season, and rightfully so, because John Collins missed the first fifteen games. With that being said, make no mistake about it: John Collins is the best player on the Hawks by far and he is showing us all why it will not be long before he is considered an All-Star in this league.
In a loaded 2017 draft class, Collins found himself floating under the radar as a late first-round prospect. Most years, he would have easily been regarded as a lottery selection, which turned out to be a saving grace for the Hawks. He landed right in their lap with the 19th pick and put together the kind of rookie campaign that should have been talked about a lot more.
Unfortunately, he played on a lousy team, that finished tied for the second worst record in the league, but that did not stop him from putting up the second best number of win shares in his draft class (5.8). Yes, only Jayson Tatum (8.6) finished with more win shares than Collins, which means he finished with a higher number of win shares than both Donovan Mitchell and Kyle Kuzma.
Right now, Collins is an explosive athlete with a fantastic offensive game from eighteen feet and in. He’s been continuously working on his three-point shot, and even though he’s off to a poor start (12.5% in 8 games), I expect that to be at least 30% by season’s end. Once that is the case, there is nothing holding him back from becoming an All-Star in the next few years.
The Hawks have slowly eased Collins back into the starting lineup since his return, and he’s already smashing his numbers that he put up a year ago. In 26.6 minutes, Collins is averaging 14.9 points on 58% shooting , 6.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists, resulting in a PER a pinch shy of 18. Once again, these are numbers from a player who has been out for over a month with an ankle injury.
By season’s end, the Wake Forest product will be sniffing 20 points per game on over 50% shooting, rebounding the ball at a respectable rate between 7-10 boards a night, dishing out a few assists and blocking a shot per game. Those are not too far off from the numbers Blake Griffin was putting up early in his career, and they sure both know how to electrify a crowd with a poster. The Hawks are off to a fantastic start to their rebuild with building blocks like John Collins and Trae Young.