Readers of SportsTalkATL.com are well aware that we have been on the John Collins hype train for months. His Summer League performance has already sealed him and Dennis Smith Jr. as NBA Draft steals.
Yes, it is only Summer League, but Collins translated his dominant play over from the ACC to the Summer League level, and there is no reason to think he will not do the same in the NBA.
Collins averaged 15.4 points and 9.2 rebounds per game despite averaging just 23 minutes a contest. He displayed unbelievable athleticism for a guy his size and even took some three pointers. If he can add this to his offensive arsenal, he could become seemingly unstoppable. This could be extremely helpful, because a huge part of his game is setting picks up top. If he can step out and make those shots, he could be a truly elite offensive power forward.
It is easy to see why Collins had the highest PER in the NCAA last season. Sure, it can be a flawed stat, but it is nonetheless impressive when considering he played in the toughest conference in the country and was the main assignment for opposing teams. This is because Collins knows when to give up the rock and only takes smart shots. On top of this, he has great post moves. After watching Dwight operate the paint on offense last season, it was a pleasure to watch someone with a bit more creativity down low.
See for yourself. Here is a mixtape of Collins Summer League play. He is clearly just a dominant force.
Collins will enter the NBA as already one of the fiercest dunkers in the game. If he can add around 20 pounds of muscle, things could get ugly. On a rebuilding Hawks team, Collins will have a great opportunity to play a big role as a rookie. In years past, Coach Bud has handed out DNP’s to rookies like candy on Halloween, but these teams were also competing. One advantage Collins has is his only competition at power forward is forward veteran Ersan Ilyasova. He will also likely play a bunch of minutes at the 5 given his rebounding ability. He may not make an impact during the first quarter of the season, but if he plays a big role early, Collins could be a serious dark horse for Rookie of the Year. Nevertheless, Collins is the most polished product Coach Bud has gotten to work with straight out of the Draft as far as young talent is concerned.
The Golden State Warriors were not built through a full tank. The front office simply drafted well and hit on mid-round picks, and maintained financial flexibility. Travis Schlenk is likely to follow the same route. In Dennis Schroder and John Collins, he has two future stars to play with and five first round picks at his disposal the next two seasons. The Hawks certainly will not be selling out Phillips Arena this season, but one could make the argument that their future is brighter than it has been in a decade.