John Collins Making a Good First Impression in Summer League

DAYTON, OH - MARCH 14: John Collins
DAYTON, OH - MARCH 14: John Collins /

First round selection and Atlanta’s top pick in last month’s draft, John Collins, has shown stellar performances during the NBA’s Summer League in Las Vegas.

The NBA Summer League kicked off last week for some teams in Orlando, Florida. The remaining teams, including the Hawks, started their slate of action in Las Vegas, Nevada over the weekend.

The spectacle of these particular games around this time of year are typically lacking in excitement, mainly because stars and the more established players do not compete in Summer League. While this is still true for the majority of the league, there is a different vibe surrounding the Hawks, perhaps unlike any other.

Over the last decade, you could bet on the Hawks fielding a veteran squad, and doing well enough to qualify for the playoffs. During this time, it was difficult to find any reason at all to watch and follow the Hawks in the NBA Summer League.

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Since new team general manager Travis Schlenk has taken over, he has opted for an infusion of youth to usher the Hawks towards a brighter future. If that wasn’t reason enough, the 19th pick of the 2017 NBA draft could supply ample motivation to tune in. Despite being taken well outside of the lottery, the 6’11” John Collins is one of the most talented and captivating picks Atlanta has ever made.

Atlanta Hawks
NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 22: John Collins walks on stage with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being drafted 19th overall by the Atlanta Hawks during the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center on June 22, 2017 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

Collins finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds on 9-11 field goals and 4- 7 from the foul line in Sunday’s 84- 82 win over the Pelicans. He unleashed a reel of thunderous, highlight worthy dunks in transition and in half court sets. When he wasn’t busy slamming with reckless abandon, he was hustling for loose balls, boxing out opponents, setting picks all over the floor, posting up and converting jump shots from 17- 20 feet.

It’s tough to jump to many conclusions from exhibition games, but he did at the very least  look like a capable scorer in this one. Collins doesn’t have a game currently without flaws of course. His defense is as weak as the criticism suggests. In a game that allows everybody to commit 10 personal fouls before fouling out, as opposed to the normal 6, he still couldn’t stop his counterpart from scoring 23 points on 9/18 shooting Sunday.

While length and athleticism are at the top of the list of his biggest selling points, he will need to add to his upper body strength to match up with forwards at the next level. That’s to be expected from a 19 year old however, and if his performance so far is any indication, he’ll have a successful career.

It’s important to realize, these scrimmage games consist of outrageously less skill and talent than that of any player who has ever made it in the NBA. Upon watching an entire game, you are guaranteed to experience several moments that are totally laughable.

It’s a foregone conclusion John Collins will be the starting power forward next season. He should be one of the teams first options on offense too, after Dennis Schroder of course. With the number of rookies that log starters minutes being extremely limited, don’t be surprised if he is in the running for the rookie of the year award. He will garner attention and popularity from the mainstream, because of his soaring, skyscraper dunks. The most casual of fans even like that sort of thing.

Next: Hawks Showing Interest in Dewayne Dedmon