Draft Profile: John Collins May Be Hawks' Next Big Man Project
Many think we will go big with the #19 pick in the 2017 Draft. If we do, Wake Forest's John Collins is a name that may be available. Given that the only big men under contract for next season are Dwight Howard and Ryan Kelly, we may opt for the 6'10" forward if he's available.
What are John’s strengths?
John is very much a throwback in the sense that in an ideal world he'd play the 4...about 15-20 years ago. He's a big man who can be absolutely dominant under the basket with regularity, run the floor with the best of them, and outworks people for rebounds. His mid-range game definitely improved from freshman to sophomore year, and I anticipate him spending more time in the NBA will only improve that. The other thing I'd point out is his work ethic is killer. The guy went from a relatively under-the-radar high school prospect to a mid-first rounder in two seasons. The importance of coaching can't be overstated either (thank you Danny Manning) but it's pretty obvious to me that for John, ball is life.
How does his game translate to the NBA?
There's good news and bad news. The good news is, as I said, he's a classic big man with a fantastic motor, refined post moves, good athleticism, and good IQ. The downsides are that he's too small to really play the 5 unless it's in a small lineup, and he can't stretch the floor enough to be your typical 2017 NBA power forward. I do think John will pan out, but I see it being in a way similar to his fellow Demon Deacon James Johnson in being a strong bench contributor. Obviously I'd love to see him as a perennial All-Star setting the league on fire, but as his game stands now (which again, could expand or change to John's benefit) I see John as a high floor, low ceiling solid pick.
What can he do to improve?
Range and defense. If he can get more consistent with his mid-range jumpers I think he'll be very much set offensively. Defensively, I wouldn't say he's a bad defender, but he needs to work on lateral quickness and sticking with assignments. When things get gritty under the basket and/or on the glass, though, John handles his business.
What style of play suits him best?
I've already alluded to this, but absolutely post play down low, both offensively and defensively. The bad news is if John is any kind of 5, he's a small ball 5, but the good news is small ball is taking over the league, so I can see him carving out a niche for himself.
To which current NBA player would you compare him?
It's by no means a perfect comparison and I'm not 100% sure it's the most on point, but I will say the first name that popped into my head is Zach Randolph. They're similarly-sized height-wise (Z-Bo is a LOT beefier, however) and both bring that sort of lunch pail, grit and grind, "might not be pretty but I'm gonna do me", beast down low sensibility. That said, while Z-Bo is bigger, there's no question John is more explosive, so like I said it's not a perfect comparison, but I think it's a pretty solid one.