“ICE TRAE FOR THREEE!!!”
That’s what the little Hawks are saying. “Trae Young is the new face of the franchise.” That’s what the bigger Hawks are saying. “Where did they find this guy?!” Now that?…that’s what EVERYBODY, especially those outside of the Hawks fanbase are saying….about John Collins aka John The Baptist.
It’s more than apparent that Trae is next up to be the franchise’s torchbearer for the foreseeable future, but the first piece and cornerstone of this rebuild can be and should be attributed to John Collins.
In his rookie campaign he managed to eek out a promising 10.5 ppg 7.3 rpg 1.1 blk stat line in 24.1 minutes per game under then coach Mike Budenholzer. I say “eeked out” only for the simple fact that Collins only started 26 of his 74 games played and Coach Bud has a penchant for not really playing his rookies much. But Collins was so explosive he was playing a relatively healthy amount of minutes under Bud. The potential was evident. The ceiling of this potential not so much.
The Hawks have had plenty of high flyer’s don the jersey and accost the rim. We all know ‘Nique and Spud. But there was also Augmon, J Smooth (if we’re being honest he was why Phillips Arena was referred to as the Highlight Factory.) even the likes of Darvin Ham; so having an explosive player isn’t new to Atlanta.
The Hawks have also had a number of underrated or understated talents as well. Just look back at the Highlight Factory days and Iso Joe was one of the most understated talents ever. His personality was almost nonexistent which definitely allowed him to be overlooked as a star. Steve Smith was probably a victim of logjam at Shooting Guard so his talent may have been underrated. When you have to stand in line behind Michael Jordan, Penny Hardaway and Reggie Miller you can expect to be left off of almost every list.
With Collin’s combination of explosiveness and an ever improving offensive repertoire coming off of an astronomical sophomore season (19.5 ppg 9.8 rpg 0.6 blk) he is definitely becoming more recognized. JC is not just being seen as solid player, but as a rising star.
Coming out of Wake Forest with a near identical sophomore jump (7.3 ppg 3.9 rpg to 19.2 ppg 9.8 rpg) , hindsight suggests that JC “fell” to the Hawks at pick number 19; but realistically no one can truthfully say they expected him to be this extraordinary. Now that October is around the corner (October 22) the Hawks future seemingly rests in two sets of hands. Two faces on billboards. Two names on the backs of the jerseys. Two separate highlight reels. Two ambassadors for the city. Two potential all-stars. Two number 1’s. John Collins isn’t a sidekick. He’s a number one too.
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Mike Gaines | @mgainesii