To put it lightly, it was a very encouraging rookie year for Hawks’ first round draft pick John Collins. Collins, the 6′ 10″ power forward/center out of Wake Forest, displayed his freakish athleticism and post scoring ability throughout his first year in Atlanta and looks to be one of the future cornerstones of the Hawks’ rebuild.
Collins began the season coming off of the bench but eventually worked his way into the starting lineup after Ersan Ilyasova parted ways with the franchise. He consistently provided the kind of youthful energy that the Hawks needed in the midst of their worst season in over a decade.
Collins finished the season averaging over 7 rebounds per game, good for third among all rookies during the season. He also finished second among rookies in both field goal percentage (.576) and blocks (1.08). He also gave Atlanta countless momentum boosts with his ferocious dunks and high-energy style of play. In addition to dunking, Collins displayed a nice soft touch around the rim that will only improve with more experience.
During the season, Collins turned himself from a post-only player to a mid-range threat, and even developed a nice corner three-point shot as the season progressed. If he can continue to improve his jump-shooting this offseason, he will present lots of matchup problems for opponents next season.
One area where Collins needs to improve is decreasing his fouls; he averaged three a game and fouled out on numerous occasions. This is a problem, however, that will likely be remedied with increased NBA experience.
Another area where Collins could improve is his passing ability. If he can consistently make passes among the trees in the paint, a whole new dimension would be added to his game. He could also improve his defensive instincts, but this is another facet of his game that should progress as he gains more experience.
All in all, Collins had a very solid rookie year and was undoubtedly one of the steals of the draft, having been picked at number 19. He should continue to improve in the weaker areas of his game as he sees heavier usage in the coming seasons and definitely should give Hawks fans a sense of optimism for the future.