Despite drafting Henry Ellenson in the first round last year, the Pistons are once again in a position where power forward is a position of need heading into the 2017-2018 season. John Leuer showed flashes but just didn’t prove to be a real option as the starting power forward spot last year. And with Ellenson still developing and unproven, the Pistons could draft a new starting power forward if they feel that’s the best position available. Enter John Collins.
Collins was the star big man at Wake Forrest over the last two season. This sophomore has shown a lot of promise and growth at the collegiate level and projects to be anywhere from a late lottery pick to mid-first-round pick in the upcoming draft on June 22nd.
Collins has a nice post game to work with. He fights for good position down low and has a number of nice moves to score in the paint. However, given the option, Collins would rather use his nice leaping ability to go up and throw it down. This is an area of his game where Collins is very good. He is very light on his feet, making him a great lob threat in the pick and roll and in transition. This combo of athleticism and skill in the post make him a very good post scorer.
As you can see in this video below, Collins loves to catch lobs out of the pick and roll, eerily similar to Andre Drummond.
Defensively, Collins leaves something to be desired, but the tools are there to work with. He has quick feet to stay right on his man, even when out on the perimeter. And while he has a lot to learn in this area of the game, he does show a decent feel for shot blocking. After averaging 0.7 blocks per game as a freshman, he raised his game to the tune of 1.6 blocks per game last season. With additional experience and coaching, Collins could become a very good shot blocker at the next level.
As a rebounder, Collins looks to have a pretty solid skill set in that area. He averaged 9.8 boards per game last season at Wake Forest. His leaping ability tells me that he has the tools to be good in this area at the NBA level. However, the thing that I really love about this part of his game is how hard he works for rebounds. He will fight for position. He will chase down loose balls. He will battle for every inch on the floor. Bottom line, if his opponent doesn’t want to work really hard, Collins will beat him because he is relentless when it comes securing the ball.
Finally, the things that won’t ever show up on a stat sheet. Collins hustles for everything. He runs hard in transition, never jogging or going half speed. He will do all the dirty work, diving on the floor or saving a ball back in bounds. They may be little things, but they’re things that need to get done. Collins is a great worker who will come in and do whatever he has to, the things start players don’t want to do, for the team to succeed. Many would say that someone who goes all out is something the Pistons need. If that is the case, the Collins might be the guy to take with the 12th pick.
From a mental aspect, Collins has a long way to go on the defensive side of the floor. He is still learning the fundamentals and does not show a high IQ. He will give up easy buckets, despite trying hard, just because he doesn’t seem to understand what his opponent is doing sometimes. Even if this mental area of his game did improve, Collins has a very thin build and can be pushed around as a post defender. If he had above average length to work with he could overcome being so thin, but his length is very average for his size. He needs to hit the weight room in a big way, much like Henry Ellenson did and still does need to. This is an area that needs to improve before he can get any significant playing time at the NBA level.
In terms of passing, Collins has so much room to grow. It seems like low awareness of his teammates prevents him from really moving the ball and helping the offense run smoothly. Because of this he will try to do too much as a scorer at times and play a bit out of control. He needs to learn to move the ball better and not stop the ball whenever it comes to him.
While Collins does has a developing jump shot, he doesn’t really space the floor at this point in his career. He needs to be more consistent with his mid range shooting and he doesn’t really offer anything as a three point shooter yet. I believe he can improve in these areas and add that mid range jumper and occasional three ball to his arsenal, but that will take time and practice.
I really like what Collins brings to the table. His ability to score in the paint combined with his athleticism and, what I believe will be, a good mid range jumper in time makes him a guy who can be a high level scorer in the NBA. In his sophomore season, he averaged 19.2 points per game 62.2 percent shooting. In terms of his offensive skill set, I see some Tim Duncan(I am not saying Collins will turn into Tim Duncan) or Antonio McDyess to his game. Then you take into account what he brings as a rebounder and what his potential is as a shot blocker, I find it really hard not to believe in this kid. However, despite his talent, he has such a long way to go from a mental aspect. He is a total project on the defensive end. He needs time in the developmental league to really learn how to defend and move the ball.
I think Collins will play in the D-League for a few years then come up to the NBA level and become a really good player. I believe in his talent and his work ethic. That being said, I don’t want to see him drafted by the Pistons. He doesn’t space the floor well enough at this point to fit in with the rest of the current roster. He needs that time to develop and Stan Van Gundy has said that he’s looking for more of a “win now” player. Despite my belief in Collins, Detroit just isn’t a good fit for him at this point and vice versa.
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