Atlanta Hawks F John Collins earns dubious label heading into critical offseason

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Hawks stood pat at the trade deadline in large part because they believed that health played a significant factor in their rough go of things. To their credit, they did post the NBA’s sixth-best record after the All-Star break. If anything, though, that just served as a bitter reminder of the heightened expectations that ushered in this past season.

Now, they are heading into a critical offseason where they have to ask themselves the toughest of questions: which version of them is the real one?

Is it the one we saw this year or is it last year’s group that was largely predicated on defense?

To truly find out, they might have to move on from a player many would quickly tell you is the heart and soul of this team in John Collins. He is, quite literally, the founding member of a core that was thought to be among the league’s best young groups in the summer.

An overlap in skill sets could make John Collins more valuable to the Atlanta Hawks as a trade chip

The suggestion comes via Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report who identified one expendable player on every NBA roster. Collins is far from “expendable” in the conventional sense. Not many forwards are putting up the 17.6 points on 64.2% true shooting with 7.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.2 blocks per game he did before entering health and safety protocols in December.

"The issue isn’t Collins himself. He’s a 24-year-old who’s been good for 18.5 points and 8.7 rebounds since the start of 2018-19. In most situations, his age and ability might lock him into building-block status."

That all sounds good. It is impossible not to notice the “most situations” qualifier. Buckley explains why Collins’ time in Atlanta could end this offseason.

"His close-range finishing overlaps with starting center Clint Capela‘s skill set. While Collins can stretch the floor, he has never been a high-volume shooter. This season, just 27.3 percent of his field-goal attempts came from the perimeter, and that was a career high."

What’s worse, Collins’ three-ball betrayed him after he returned from health and safety protocols.

He went from shooting 42.7% from deep to 27.4% as he also dropped to 14.2 points per game. Collins hit multiple threes in just eight of his final 22 appearances during the regular season. He returned for the postseason to average 9.4 points and 4.6 boards on 48.7% shooting from the floor while knocking down 4-of-11 threes.

Collins talked about how beat up he was in his exit interview.

His minus-25.9 net rating in the postseason was only better than Capela’s.

"While other clubs could covet Collins’ finishing and glass-cleaning, Atlanta would elevate its roster by flipping him in a deal that brings back a dynamic wing defender who can create his own shot."

The Hawks re-signed Collins to a five-year, $125 million deal this past offseason. But concerns over his inability to create offense have existed.

Hawks urged to sign former $47 million wing defender. dark. Next

Talk of a “consolidation trade” for a co-star for Young followed the Hawks all last summer and into the season. This is just another sign that the talk won’t be disappearing anytime soon. Especially with the way the Hawks season ended.