For the Hawks, What is John Collins Best Position?

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 10: John Collins #20 of the Atlanta Hawks congratulates Ersan Ilyasova #23 of the Philadelphia 76ers after they pick up a victory over the Atlanta Hawks on April 10, 2018 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Kevin Liles/NBAE via Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 10: John Collins #20 of the Atlanta Hawks congratulates Ersan Ilyasova #23 of the Philadelphia 76ers after they pick up a victory over the Atlanta Hawks on April 10, 2018 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Kevin Liles/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Exciting rookie John Collins had a banner year with the Atlanta Hawks after being selected with the 19th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

Though the Hawks will look completely different next season with 4 draft picks incoming in the top 34 selections, as well as an entirely new coaching staff led by head coach Lloyd Pierce, Collins is clearly a part of the team’s future in a meaningful way.

JC had a terrific year – one that saw him snubbed for All-Rookie First Team. He was the first rookie since John Drew in the 1974-75 season to lead the Hawks in win shares (5.4), and the first rook since the inimitable Spud Webb to lead Atlanta in Player Efficiency Rating (18.3), though Spud did play 500 minutes less than JC.

Beyond his statistical accomplishments, John the Baptist lived up to that moniker and threw down some spectacular slams in his rookie season (which we ranked here).

Hawks fans should expect more of the same on that front next season, as JC expands his game and improves his craft on the offensive end.

However, with the Hawks likely to take one of the multiple talented big men in the 2018 Draft with the 3rd overall pick, the question of where to play John Collins comes to the forefront. Should the team keep JC at the 4, where he played the majority of his minutes (60%) in his rookie year? Or should they slide him over to center (38% of minutes), where he can hone his skills as a rim protector after producing some solid shot-blocking numbers during his rookie year?

With a franchise-altering big man likely incoming, the most realistic outcome is that John the Baptist will play the majority of his minutes at power forward – just like he did in his rookie year.

Mohamed Bamba and Jaren Jackson Jr. are both clearly better options at the five, and both of them should prove to be an upgrade on the team’s defensive front from the center position last year. Between them, they have upside and wingspan to spare, and both players merit a serious look-in when the Hawks select 3rd overall.

However, according to our most recent Mock Draft, the Hawks are also likely to take Marvin Bagley III out of Duke 3rd overall, which provides an interesting conundrum. Though Bagley has requisite size to play the five, he showed very little instincts as a defensive player in college – and slotting him in against big, burly NBA centers might not be the best bet.

If Bagley is drafted, perhaps the single year of NBA experience that Collins received last season will provide new coach Lloyd Pierce enough evidence that JC could hold down the center position until Bagley is defensively ready to take on that challenge.

Next: 7 Players the Hawks Could Select 19th Overall

No matter who the Hawks take 3rd overall, they will have an excellent young core with their 4 Top 34 selections as well as JC, Taurean Prince and Tyler Dorsey to build around.