The Hawks aren’t putting any limits on what John Collins can beThe second-year big man is going to do a bit of everything for Atlanta
“It’s still being processed,” Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce told Peachtree Hoops. “The beauty of it is (that John)’s shown one tremendous area of growth. He goes from 72 percent of his shots being at the rim last year and now he’s a 38 percent three-point shooter, just like that. I think that just opened up a new door for him, whether he’s a 5 or a stretch 4. He’s never been called a stretch 4 before and now he’s a stretch 4, in addition to being a power forward because of his ability in pick-and-roll.”
“I think the growth for me in watching him and seeing how our game is played is ‘can he facilitate?’” Pierce said of Collins. “When you have a guy that’s that athletic, that’s that talented and picks up things pretty easily at the age of 21, you’re curious whether or not he can bring the ball up and be a James Johnson, who plays point forward for Miami a lot of times in DHOs and isos and things of that nature. Increase his ball handling, put him in positions where we can open up the floor and let him be an athlete.” Pierce hasn’t yet experimented with putting the ball in Collins’ hands to create in pick-and-roll, but he’s clearly conscious of where he wants his young big man to improve.
Should his long-term role be the do-it-all forward he aspires to be, [certain] areas of his game will have to be cleaned up, but there’s still plenty of time for that over the next several years. It’s exceedingly rare that a player of his size and previous pedigree as a big man would be able to add ball handling and advanced play-making to his game in his first few years in the league.
Bumping him up a position would speed up the process of making him an above-average play-maker. Against centers, he’s simply too quick and too athletic for them to handle on the perimeter.
He’s drawn a fair bit of criticism for his defensive play this season, it has to be noted that he’s been better in [recent] weeks. The plays that were begging for a rotation and vertical rim protection are creeping their way into his game as his recognition improves.
Recent defensive developments point to him being more of a power forward in the future, as he’s become more adept at rotating as a weak-side rim protector. That spot also makes life easier on him physically, as he doesn’t have to bang with opposing centers in the post or on the glass and can use his explosive leaping ability to rotate and erase shots at the basket.Collins has the inside track to play a massive part in the next great Hawks team, and if he’s able to round out his offensive game into the jack-of-all-trades big man they clearly think he can become -- plus add enough on the defensive side -- there’s no telling how high he and his teammates can soar.