Welcome to draft week. The homestretch.
Already there has been a major trade at the top of the draft, and a ton of chatter about All-Stars being traded around the league. This is one of the greatest weeks of the entire basketball calendar, and there is still much more to come.
Today I focus on one of the most offensively gifted big men in the draft. That is a hole that has been felt in Portland ever since LaMarcus Aldridge decided to take his talents to San Antonio.
Outside of Jusuf Nurkic, I don’t think that the Blazers are sold on any of the other big guys on the roster. Noah Vonleh showed a ton of improvement and promise after the All-Star break last season and likely enters the season as the starting power forward spot. But Vonleh is in a contract year and has a lot to prove if he wants an extension from the Blazers.
Collins would bring an offensive game that any team would benefit from. While there are still things that Collins needs to improve on, he would be one of the few prospects available in the Blazers’ draft range that could come in and help this team immediately.
Scouting Report: John Collins III
Hometown: Layton, UT
Weight: 225 lbs.
Noted Measurables: 6’11-1/4” wingspan, 8’10-1/2” standing reach, 37.5” max vert
School: Wake Forest University
Experience: 2 years, 64 games
College Statistics: 64 games, 13.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.2 bpg, 60% fg (Sophomore season: 19.2 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 1.6 bpg, 62% fg)
College Highlights: 2017 First-Team All-ACC
- Offensive Skillset. A lot of the attention on Collins has been centered on his offensive game and the numbers that he put up in college. Averaging almost 20 points per game as a sophomore (28.8 points per 40 minutes) is what has launched Collins to the top half of the first round. His offensive game is largely centered on his ability to rebound and put back, as well as some pick and roll game from about 15 feet. I think that he is talented enough to contribute offensively right away as a power forward coming off the bench and bringing energy and scoring.
- Athletic Ability. Remember in 2012 when the Blazers drafted Meyers Leonard as an athletic big man that could run the floor? Yeah, me too. Well Collins can run the floor just as well as Leonard, but has much better instincts and continually shows better spacing in transition. Collins can really leap for a big guy and plays above the rim a lot. His athleticism will really help his transition into the NBA.
- It is rare to find a big guy in the draft that has the skillset, athleticism, and motor that Collins has. Usually you can choose two of those three things, but not all three. Collins scored a ton of points in college underneath the basket battling for offensive rebounds. Collins runs the floor well, battles for board, and gives a lot of energy on the defensive end of the floor.
- Defensive Skills. One of the biggest things that Collins is lacking is his overall defensive game. He has decent feet and gives a good amount of effort on defense, but lacks the instincts and polish to be any more of a competent defender in the NBA. If Collins were able to translate some of the instincts he brings to the offensive end of the floor, to defense, we would be a guaranteed lottery pick.
- Shot Variety. Collins has great feel around the basket. He can play well with his back to the basket and posting up similar size or smaller defenders. Collins needs to be able to expand his game to at least be able to shoot reasonably well from the midrange. If Collins could shoot 45% or better from the midrange, that would help his offensive game be much more well-rounded. Don’t expect him to fit the mold of today’s three point shooting big man.
- NBA Role. Now this may sound crazy coming from a guy that loves Collins as a draft prospect, but I think he will be much better suited coming off the bench in the NBA. Collins game, as a 19 year old, lacks the polish required to play 30+ minutes per game for a contending team. However, with his energy, motor and skillset he can be a game changing big coming off the bench.
NBA Comparison: Blake Griffin. Now don’t stop reading this far into it. Griffin is obviously a perennial All-Star and likely a top-20 player in the NBA. Collins should not be held to that kind of standard but there are similarities. Measureables are very similar between the two players coming out of college. Each player took a huge step in their sophomore seasons. Both players we dominant inside on offense. Griffin has obviously developed a good mid-range, which is something that Collins needs to do. Collins has all of the tools, we will just see what type of player he can develop into.
Where he would fit in Portland: The Power Forward position is the biggest hole on this roster. I have said it time and time again that Noah Vonleh played well enough after the All-Star break to be the starting power forward to start next season. Beyond that, it is anybody’s spot. Meyers Leonard is likely to be headed out of Portland in a cost cutting deal, and Ed Davis has reached his ceiling. Collins would give the Blazers a young talent, cheap contract, and more upside type player.