The Atlanta Hawks, the NBA, and the world learned an important lesson in Las Vegas: John Collins can ball.
The power forward selected 19th overall out of Wake Forest came to Summer League to prove everyone wrong. Well, everyone except one. Travis Schlenk knew what he wanted to do with the team as soon as he became general manager, and by the time the draft was completed Atlanta saw the dismissal of Dwight Howard’s massive contract and welcomed young blood with promising potential.
Now I’m not going to sit here and say that John Collins at this point in his career is worthy of supplanting an 8-time All-Star and 3-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, but his future is worth a look into. Summer League gave the Collins the opportunity to showcase what many missed out on. Pick-and-rolls, strong post-up game, reliable mid-range shot, an opportunity to develop the three, dunks, more dunks, and an understanding of the system.
Hawks fans can’t help but be enamored with his play over the 5 games. Who wouldn’t? He went from a non-lottery first round pick to be being talked about in the same context as Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum, and Dennis Smith Jr. The 2017 draft was a fruitful one, but many may have fallen into the point-guard trap, not having taken a long enough look at Collins as an option at the 4 or 5.
Travis Schlenk and his team did not enjoy the same misfortune, capitalizing immediately on the prospect when he fell to them at 19. The outlook in Atlanta is much improved after Summer League and as the dust settles in free-agency and high-profile trades.
Schlenk also did well to surround Collins with other young talent and some veteran presence.
The backcourt remains strong as chemistry from last season will ensure continuous flow of play and fast transition from defense to offense. Bazemore and Schröder will start while Marco Belinelli, Malcolm Delaney, DeAndre’ Bembry, and Tyler Dorsey will provide alternative options. Josh Magette will also feature for part of the season, as he is the first recipient of the Hawks’ two-way contract with the NBA G-League.
The frontcourt will most-likely feature new additions Miles Plumlee, and Dewayne Dedmon. John Collins and Taurean Prince will look to break into the starting five as early as possible, while Ilyasova, Muscala, and Diamond Stone will come off the bench.
Schlenk took a team that seemed to be ready to decline after a decade of playoff contention and turned it into a steady contender with a remaining shot at the lower seeds in the East.
Mike Budenholzer will most likely start with Bazemore, Schröder, Belinelli, Prince, and Dedmon. The second line is looking like: Delaney, Bembry, Collins, Ilyasova, and Plumlee, while the remaining will be interspersed throughout the campaign.
There were winners and there were losers of the offseason, and the Atlanta Hawks have made sure to announce themselves among the winners in a year of massive change, with a reliable Travis Schlenk at the helm and a solid Mike Budenholzer ready to win games.