With the Atlanta Hawks down 2-0 to the Boston Celtics in the opening round of the NBA playoffs, the speculation over their offseason has already begun again.
“John Collins has spent the bulk of his six-year career on the trade block,” writes Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report. “It’s possible he would have finally made the jump from the rumor mill to the transaction log this season had he not backtracked in such a major way.
“It was rough, but maybe not so bad that it scared away all suitors.”
“Atlanta might be in the market for a designated sharpshooter, too, since no one really filled the void left by Kevin Huerter,” notes Buckley citing the Hawks’ ranking seventh in offensive rating but 26th in made threes during the regular season. “Give them a fire-baller like [Buddy] Hield…and this attack could jump from good to great.”
Hield, 30, averaged 16.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.8 assists this season while knocking down 42.5% of triples on 8.5 attempts per game for the Pacers this past season. He is heading into the final year of a four-year, $94 million contract offering some flexibility.
Collins – who is heading into the third year of a five-year, $125 million deal – is locked in through the 2026 season with a $26.6 million player option in the final season.
This move could be just the kind of jumpstart that he needs.
“Sharing the frontcourt with a floor-spacer like Myles Turner instead of the paint-clogging Clint Capela would give Collins more room to operate as a pick-and-roll finisher,” Buckley argues. “ When Collins has been featured, he has usually delivered.”
Collins averaged 21.6 points and 10.1 rebounds in 2019-20 but has seen his numbers decline in each subsequent season. He averaged the second-fewest points of his career this past regular season with 13.1 PPG adding the fewest boards of his career with 6.5 per contest while his efficiency has tanked to a .508/.292/.803 slash line.
He has voiced frustrations with his role – or lack thereof – in the past and hinted tht the frontcourt could use a few more touches after the Hawks’ Game 1 loss to the Boston Celtics.
“It definitely benefits us in large ways to attack mismatches and get easy buckets,” he told Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo Sports. “Sometimes the game just doesn’t roll that way. I wish it would more, but I can’t really elaborate on that too much. Everyone getting involved and us getting easier buckets makes the entire offense more fluid.”
Collins finished Game 2 with five points on 2-for-11 shooting including 1-for-7 from beyond the arc adding six rebounds one assist and one block. It’s fair to point out both his inefficiency and that his 34 touches were the fifth-most on the team.
Both Bogdan Bogdanovic and De’Andre Hunter finished with more.
Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young reacts to Celtics fans’ ‘overrated’ chants
An article from The Athletic featured a poll in which 54 players (roughly 12% of the entire NBA player pool) voted Trae Young as the “most overrated” player in the NBA. It’s not the worse thing that’s been said about him which is the approach he took when fans at TD Garden Arena began showering him with chants of the term while he was shooting free throws during the Hawks’ Game 2 loss.
“Both places are very loud,” Young said comparing the Boston crowd to that of the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden, per Jeff Schultz of The Athletic following Game 2. Boston fans, although they’re rowdy and cheering for their (team), they’re a little more respectful. They weren’t yelling F.U. in the first quarter. That’s the only difference.”
He had a message for his detractors upon his arrival back in Atlanta.
“Any team playing at home, usually you get a extra boost,” Young said via the Hawks’ YouTube channel. “I’m looking forward to getting back home, and getting some rest, and playing in front of our fans. It’s been a minute since we have so I’m looking forward to getting back home and playing there.”
The Hawks went 24-17 at home and were the mirror of that, 17-24, on the road.
Further lending credence to Young’s assertion of a homecourt “boost”, he averaged 2.6 more points, 1.1 more assists, and 0.9 rebounds at home compared to on the road.