Should John Collins be the Atlanta Hawks small-ball center?

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports /

Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report has released his article on who every team’s best small-ball lineup contains. For the Atlanta Hawks, this contains Trae Young and Dejounte Murray in the backcourt. The wings are Bogdan Bogdanovic and the center is John Collins.

Offensively this is an amazing lineup. Every one of the players can either create for themselves or others, or they have tremendous range on their shot or nuclear athleticism. Defensively, this is not the best lineup with Young being a liability. Bogdanovic is a capable defender but is not an elite defender, which is required to make this system work.

However, it is the inclusion of Collins in the lineup which is the most problematic, defensively. He does not have the acumen on the floor to make up for his lack of height and size when competing against more traditional centers.

Who is the better option for the Atlanta Hawks at their small-ball center?

The Hawks have a number of players that they could use at the position, potentially moving Hunter to the five and putting a player like Justin Holiday or Maurice Harkless in as another defensive wing. This would be great defensively but would not help the Hawks’ small ball offense.

The person better suited to this role is the Atlanta Hawks’ best-kept secret, none other than Onyeka Okongwu. He has put in the work over the offseason and he is should be able to help space the floor from the midrange.

His athleticism more than makes up for his lack of size, as does his defensive acumen. He already has such a good connection with Young, finishing many passes at the rim with spectacular dunks. He is set to make a step forward again this season and the small ball lineup will fit right into his playing style.

While there are teams bucking the trend of small-ball, namely the Minnesota Timberwolves and Cleveland Cavaliers, the small ball is not going away. This lineup, with Okongwu at the pivot, will be able to trouble most teams in the league. This is why it has to be Okongwu, not Collins who should be the choice at center for the Hawks’ small ball lineup.

On top of that, the Hawks have left themselves very thin at the power forward spot. This means that instead of playing center in a small-ball lineup, he should be rested. Collins’ talents are better suited alongside Clint Capela or Okongwu as he is able to roam the floor, being a threat from deep or in the pick and roll. He is also a tremendous help defender when playing with either of these two.

Next. Hawks superstar has this rare commodity. dark

So no, Collins should not play the center position on the Hawks’ small ball lineup. It should certainly be Okongwu.