LAS VEGAS — As the No. 19 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, John Collins flew under the radar. Not everyone was sold on the former Wake Forest big man, especially after stint in the ACC that raised red flags about his ability on the defensive end of the floor. Beyond that, Collins landed with an Atlanta Hawks team set to embark on a full-fledged rebuild and, as a result, there wasn’t too terribly much interest league-wide in what the rookie big man would be able to do in his first professional season.
However, Collins was both productive and efficient in his debut campaign, appearing in 74 games and posting quality per-minute numbers (15.7 points and 10.9 rebounds per 36 minutes) while seeing his role increase throughout the year. Collins’ efficiency (18.3 PER, 62 percent true shooting) stood out from day one but, even on the defensive end of the floor, he was able to use his considerable athletic gifts to paper over some of the lingering question marks from the pre-draft process.
In fact, Collins performed well enough to garner second-team All-Rookie honors for the 2017-18 season and there was a credible argument for him on the first team. As the 2018 Las Vegas Summer League approached, Collins was on Atlanta’s roster and many speculated that he would be in for a short stint, particularly given the fact that the Hawks appeared for three games (with Collins playing two) in the Utah Summer League.
Still, Collins lasted long enough in Sin City to make a significant impression on talent evaluators across the league. In two contests, Collins averaged 24 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in just 28.5 minutes a contest. That was enough to force Atlanta’s hand in finally shutting him down for the remainder of the summer, but not before Collins made a few statements with his on-court play.