Collins Comes With 'A Little Something Extra'

by Casey Holdahl
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PORTLAND -- It’s been a tough sophomore season for Zach Collins. He had an impressive start to his second NBA campaign after being selected out of Gonzaga with the 10th overall pick out of the 2017 NBA Draft, but the 7-0 big has seen his minutes decrease each month of the season as he’s struggled to find consistency on both ends of the floor. While it might not be what either he, the team nor fans would have hoped for this season, at just 21 years old and after playing just one season in Spokane with the Bulldogs, it’s not all that surprising nor worrisome that Collins is still finding his way in the NBA. 

Though he might have made a bit of progress toward getting his second season back on track Wednesday night versus the Golden State Warriors at the Moda Center. While we went 0-of-4 from the field, Collins made numerous momentum-changing plays in the fourth quarter of Portland’s 129-107 victory, including a chasedown block on Damion Lee that sent the Blazers bench and the Moda Center at large into hysterics. 

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“Before that, I got blocked. I was getting blocked all night,” said Collins. “I got blocked and I was running back down, I picked up my head and dude was going to the rim and I thought I could get there so I just went up and gave my best shot.”

On the ensuing possession, Collins drew an offensive foul on Klay Thompson, after which both players had to be separated and assessed technical fouls. Roughly three minutes later, Warriors forward Draymond Green was given a flagrant foul for a rough contest of a Collins attempt in the paint, which resulted in Warriors head coach being thrown out of the game for arguing the call. Green would also pick up a technical to go with the flagrant, with the end result being an eight-point possession for the Blazers, turning what was a close game into a comfortable victory. 

“You’ve got to bring a toughness every night, but especially against a team like (Golden State) who’s so talented,” said Collins. “It’s going to be hard to match their talent man-for-man so you’ve got to come with something a little extra, you’ve got to play with heart, but you’ve also got to play smart.”

Extra heart and smarts could go a long way toward Collins reclaiming some of the playing time he’s lost over the last month of the season, though the competition for minutes is about to get even stiffer with the addition of center Enes Kanter, who the Blazers signed Wednesday after he was bought out by the Knicks. Collins said his performance wasn’t a reaction to Kanter’s arrival, though it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing for Collins or the team if it were. 

“I’m not worried about it,” said Collins after praising the signing. “I know what I bring to this team. So I’m going to go out there regardless of if I play two minutes or 30 minutes. I’m going to go out there and play as hard as I can, help ‘em win. Whatever happens with the minutes happens, again, I’m excited that he’s a part of our team.”


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