Collins exploded in a 127-119 Hawks victory over the Golden State Warriors on March 17, scoring 17 of Atlanta’s 39 first-quarter points and going on to knock down three of his game-high four (four-way tie) triples.
He credits Hawks assistant general manager Kyle Korver.
“I call him the ‘Zen Master’ for a reason,” Collins said of his work with Korver via Jameelah Johnson’s ‘atlhawksfans’ channel on YouTube. “[I] just enjoy working with him. Really just talking about my hand placement on the ball, a lot of mental tips, and just things that I can go to mentally to lock in and I’m ready to shoot. And I feel like it’s paying off.”
Collins says he hopes to continue working with Korver who only assumed the assistant GM role in January – six months after joining the organization.
He was initially brought on as the director of personnel and development.
But Korver’s credentials as a prolific shooter are undeniably something the Hawks should continue to tap into. He was just a one-time All-Star in his 17-year career, roughly five of which were spent in Atlanta. But Korver is the only player in NBA history to lead the league in three-point percentage four times, something the Hawks noted in their press release announcing his promotion in January.
Collins also hit four threes the last time he connected on any of his looks from beyond the arc but it has continued to be a struggle for the longest-tenured Hawks player.
He is shooting just 26.2% from downtown this season, by far the worst mark of his career. And, for all of the hand-wringing about his attempts, his 3.3 looks-per-game average this season is identical to each of the last two campaigns. An obvious culprit could be his finger which he injured last season but nothing has been said.
If there was one disappointment of Collins’ night, it is that he finished with just 22 points taking only three shots from the floor in the second half but it was still a good night as Collins recorded his first 20-point performance since January 4 going a span of 29 games without one.
John Collins switches up pre-game routine before Atlanta Hawks win
Collins can typically be seen receiving a lob from teammate Trae Young as part of his pre-game routine even on the road.
He was asked about switching that up ahead of the tilt versus Golden State.
“It’s funny you mention the lob with Trae,” Collins said. “I actually came into the locker room and told him I wasn’t going to be out there today. Nothing big, just change up my routine just a little bit. I try not to be a superstitious guy but we’ll see if it works again a second time.”
It is imperative to note that Collins not only delivered that last line with a chuckle but he also made it clear that he was just joking.
“Nah, I’m playing. I’m playing,” he said.
Even more notable, Young was sitting right next to him for the presser. The latter has come under heavy fire recently for his ability to lead a team on the floor and in the locker room with Collins’ previous complaints from two years ago often used as a prime example. Others have used Sacramento Kings forward Kevin Huerter’s breakout as another example.
There have been plenty of examples of teammates engaging in celebration with Young and he has been a prominent proponent of them.
But, once a narrative gets going, it can be hard to stop.
Take Young’s defense, for example. He has been playing with more effort on that end all season long. But, due to his offensive struggles to start the season and the Hawks’ overall inconsistency, it has been largely overlooked until very recently
“I’ve been trying to do that all year just for my teammates,” Young said via Johnson’s channel on March 6. “I’m playing really hard on that end trying to give my teammates all I can on both ends. So, I’m going to continue to be there on the offensive end. My defense is what I’m going to be focused on, that’s for sure.”
This narrative has been tougher to shake since the appearance of Young’s relationship with his teammates has not changed from the outside.