Atlanta Hawks: How much of Collins’ effectiveness depends on Capela?

Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Hawks recently paid forward John Collins quite handsomely. The fourth-year forward inked a five-year, $125 million contract extension following a venture into restricted free agency that probably lasted longer than either side was comfortable with.

In the end, Collins’ deal makes him the seventh-highest paid power forward in the game, per

The immediate question is whether or not he was worth the money and the answer is “it depends”.

Atlanta Hawks lineups featuring John Collins were less effective without Clint Capela

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His value was always greater to the Hawks than any other team for a number of reasons. For one, he was the first draft pick by Travis Schlenk, kickstarting this rebuild.

But what if Collins was more “reliant” on his teammates than it might seem on the surface?

Technically, Collins is the sixth highest-paid power forward because Spotrac has Bam Adebayo listed as a power forward even though he is primarily a center. For the Hawks, Capela’s importance to the team is clear on the stat sheet.

But looking through the top 10 five-man lineup combinations that featured Collins, just three exclude Capela.

Furthermore, two of those lineups yielded the team’s worst point differentials, with the Hawks being outscored by an average of 24.9 points per 100 possessions.

To be fair, they were also the least used combinations.

The question is which came first, the lack of production or the short leash? Well, Capela missed the first two games of the season. Atlanta’s most-used lineup (featuring Collins, Capela, Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, and Cam Reddish) was outscored by six points per 100 possessions.

Regular Season: 5-Man Combinations Table
1C. Capela | J. Collins | K. Huerter | C. Reddish | T. YoungATL194:37-.015-.024-.025-.015-6.0+10.8+10.8+9.9
2C. Capela | J. Collins | K. Huerter | T. Snell | T. YoungATL182:23+.073+.052+.074-.079+11.6+9.6+9.6+12.7
3B. Bogdanović | C. Capela | J. Collins | T. Snell | T. YoungATL112:45+.046+.032+.054+.098+3.9+1.6+1.6+8.2
4B. Bogdanović | C. Capela | J. Collins | K. Huerter | T. YoungATL111:39+.062+.076+.084+.079+23.7+12.0+12.0+15.4
5C. Capela | J. Collins | D. Hunter | C. Reddish | T. YoungATL96:19+.038+.118+.035+.018+14.8+4.9+4.9+7.4
6C. Capela | J. Collins | K. Huerter | D. Hunter | T. YoungATL94:42+.063+.110+.073+.074+15.4+3.1+3.1+8.0
7J. Collins | D. Gallinari | K. Huerter | T. Snell | T. YoungATL91:29+.051+.150+.125+.095+17.8-10.1-10.1-5.5
8C. Capela | J. Collins | S. Hill | K. Huerter | T. YoungATL50:33+.031-.072+.009-.042+15.8+14.3+14.3+12.5
9J. Collins | K. Huerter | D. Hunter | C. Reddish | T. YoungATL45:31-.116-.128-.148+.126-17.5+6.3+6.30.0
10J. Collins | D. Gallinari | K. Huerter | C. Reddish | T. YoungATL30:38-.126-.204-.151+.082-32.3-10.1-10.1-16.7
Player Average1849:28+.014+.018+.019+.017+4.7+4.3+4.3+5.8

Provided by View Original Table

Note that the one lineup to feature Collins but not Capela to yield a positive point differential was just the seventh-most used five-man combination and featured several backups.

Due to the number of injuries the Hawks suffered, many of their top lineups last season did not feature their projected regular starters (Young, Bogdanovic, Hunter, Collins, and Capela). That lineup didn’t see the floor together at all last season.

That had to be one of the things discussed internally during contract negotiations with Collins.

He is a terrific offensive weapon but needs to get stronger defensively. But Collins turns just 24 in September and has just begun to scratch the surface of his potential. He already proved his maturity by sacrificing individual numbers for team success this offseason.

Collins saw all of his counting stats fall across the board, save for at the free-throw line where he shot a career-high 83.3 percent.

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It’s impossible to call it without seeing everyone healthy as all five players have an impact on the differential. But, for what it’s worth, Capela did not see the same impact without Collins last season. It doesn’t have to be addressed right now. But with Capela’s deal up after the 2022-23 season, it’s something to keep an eye on.