The Atlanta Hawks‘ offseason has had a massive impact on John Collins. Since Trae Young arrived as a rookie, Collins has been the second-best player on the squad. He has heard that he is not doing enough and that the Hawks need to trade him for a second star.
What that does to the psyche of a young player cannot be determined by anyone who has not been in his position. So, how has the Hawks’ longest-tenured player responded to the addition of Dejounte Murray? Well, not only with total professionalism but he has also shown a renewed energy and passion for the game.
So, why is this the case? Well, the pressure has been removed from Collins. He was given the bag last offseason and the pressure was on him to earn it. This means that he needed to have the ball in his hands and produce huge numbers and a win. This is not Collins’ game, he is opportunistic, exploits mismatches, and works well in the pick-and-roll.
So why is the pressure off John Collins for the Atlanta Hawks?
Collins is now hitting the court and having fun. He is one of the most friendly, easy-going players in the league but he takes his craft incredibly seriously. Collins wants to win and is heavily invested in the success of the franchise.
With the attention being on Young and Murray, Collins is doing what he does best, playing uninhibited basketball. Now, it has only been a couple of games but it is the engagement we are seeing out of Collins, not the numbers which is the most impressive aspect of his game. This highlights package is pretty impressive.
Mind you, over the first two games Collins has put up impressive numbers, he is really enjoying the extra space on the floor created by Murray. Collins has averaged 23.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 2.0 steals in 35.0 minutes per game.
What has been most impressive is the shot selection of Collins. He is taking 13.0 per game and making his field goals at a healthy 69.2 percent. He has been incredible from beyond the arc, making 83.3 percent of his 3.0 attempts from distance. He is also yet to miss any of his six free throws.
While these numbers will regress back to the norm, his play has helped cover the fact that Young is shooting 25.0 percent from beyond the arc. Between Young and Murray, there are going to be so many good open looks for players like Collins to hit that you can expect the big man to stay totally engaged all season. The Atlanta Hawks will only benefit from this.