Trade speculations about the Portland Trail Blazers have sprouted out like dandelions after rain in the initial months of the summer. Atlanta Hawks attacker John Collins is the subject of the most recent and heated rumors. Could he be the key to the Blazers 7th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft? Today’s Blazer’s Edge Mailbag is all about that. Alongside Deandre Ayton and OG Anunoby, he’s a top-tier player. He’s somewhere in the middle, however others claim that he and Ayton are 1 and 1A, with arguments about who should be on top.
Collins’ biggest strength right now appears to be that he is approachable. Depending on the offers, the tale may vary between now and July. However, according to speculations, the 7th pick is sufficient compensation for him. The Blazers shouldn’t hesitate to jump on that unless they have a better move. Collins is a fantastic offensive player. This year, he has a 52.6 percent field goal percentage. Most people desire to be as efficient as they are. He has a career average of 55.9% and a career high of 58.3 percent.
He attempted almost 47 percent of his shots within three feet in that career-high season, 2019-20. A quarter of the shots were made from beyond the three-point arc. That year, he hit 40.1 percent of his long shots. That’s Wesley Matthews’ power forward accuracy.
Collins shot 40% from outside the arc the next season before falling to 36.4 percent this season. Only a third of his shots now come within three feet of the target. Deep sources account for 27% of the total, with the remaining third falling somewhere in the middle.
Collins has the ability to be an excellent rebounder. Initially in his career, when he played more inside, he was a solid offensive rebounder. As his career has progressed and he’s drifted outside. Collins isn’t a frequent passer. On offense, he’ll be more of an endpoint than a playmaker.
He’s also a great pick-and-roll teammate. Even more than Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic, the prospect of Collins and Lillard working together in a two-man game should excite Blazers fans. Collins can score in a variety of ways, including on the move. Every night, opponents would have to plan for this possibility.
Collins’ flaws are most noticeable on the defensive end of the court. When entrusted with keeping an eye on the paint, he’s OK as long as the opponent doesn’t out-size him too much. He isn’t a shot stopper. He’s more athletic than mobile, and he has a hard time closing out to the outside. That wasn’t always the case with power forwards. Even if their own man isn’t out there lofting threes, which he frequently is, fours are forced to close out to the edges of the court in today’s NBA. Collins, on the other hand, isn’t a slacker. He knows how to play defense and can contribute to a strong front line. He just will not anchor, let alone establish, that front.
Collins, who is 25 years old, is in the “Goldilocks” zone for the Blazers. He’s old enough to assist Lillard in his quest for contention, but young enough to stay as a valuable member of the roster if that quest fails. Over the following three seasons, he’ll earn between $23.5 and $26.6 million. That’s a good price for a player of his caliber. In the fourth year, he has a player option, but the Blazers can’t plan that far ahead at this moment. Collins, along with Anunoby, is one of the most cost-effective “buys” the Blazers could make. They won’t have to bloat Collins’ salary any time soon, unlike Ayton and Jerami Grant.
He is still a bargain
Collins’ is a bit injury prone. He’s appeared in 41, 63, and 54 games over the last three seasons. That’s not good, even if COVID-shortened years are included. The Blazers should be terrified of dealing with chronically injured big men. The track record isn’t exactly stellar. However, if the alternative is drafting a second-tier rookie, Collins’ mix of talent, age, and contract make this a near-no-brainer.