Atlanta Hawks star John Collins shows why he is so highly valued

Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

When the Atlanta Hawks gave John Collins the bag in the offseason there were a few eyebrows that were raised. He held out at the end of his third season in order to get paid and was rewarded at the end of his fourth season with a five-year, $125 million deal.

He is the highest-paid player on the team this season, which given that he is also the longest-tenured player and an athletic star seems pretty fair. Next season only Trae Young will be paid more than Collins making the power forward the second option by default. The fact that he is settling into his role, which is to give the team whatever it needs every single night is extremely helpful.

He is arguably having the best season of his young career. He is averaging 16.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.1 blocks, and 0.7 steals in 31.6 minutes per game. He is also shooting the ball well, going 54.0 percent from the floor, 40.0 percent from deep, and 79.5 percent from deep, prior to the Toronto Raptors game. However, numbers only tell part of the John Collins story.

John Collins is the soul of the Atlanta Hawks

There is no question that the beating heart of the Atlanta Hawks is Trae Young. His offense is the key to the Hawks game but there is something about John Collins which makes him the soul of the team.

With just over a minute to go against the Phoenix Suns, Collins was in a lot of trouble with his shoulder. The way he was holding it as he went back to the locker room, after almost doubling over in pain whilst on the court, there were questions being asked if he should play against the Toronto Raptors. I have to admit, it felt like a bad idea for Collins to play.

Some players will sit out games when they have an injury that appears to be so bad. Collins’ mindset was that he was probably going to play. By the looks of his determination, it would take a brave man to tell him that he had to sit.

So the question is, how did Collins go and the second night of a back-to-back under an injury cloud? He collected a stat line of 23 points, six rebounds and a block, a steal, and an assist. He shot the ball at 52.6 percent from the floor, 33.3 percent from the perimeter, and 50 percent from the line.

Next. Onyeka Okongwu was snubbed for the rising stars game. dark

As stated earlier though, numbers only tell part of the story. Collins showed his teammates that he was willing to put them first, to play when others may not have. This is a part of the reason the Hawks paid him handsomely in the offseason. He put the team over any potential damage to himself and asked for no special favors. His leadership and aggressive play are key for this team moving forward.