Rockets: 5 best young players to target in return for James Harden

Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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John Collins of the Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
John Collins of the Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

Number 3: John Collins

The Atlanta Hawks want to make the playoffs and James Harden is a living breathing playoff berth. An offense featuring Harden, Trae Young, Danilo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Clint Capela could get within spitting distance of averaging 130 points a game.

If the Hawks want to get crazy and go from playoff team to legitimate contender then swinging for the fences and going after James Harden is the right type of lunacy. However, it’ll cost the Hawks an arm, a leg, a beak, and a few feathers to land him.

It stands to reason that Trae Young is untouchable, which makes John Collins the centerpiece in a Harden trade. It’s easy to overlook the Hawks, they’ve been terrible, but Collins is a really good player who just turned 23.

Last season he averaged 21.6 points and 10.1 rebounds per game on 40.1-percent 3-point shooting and 58.3-percent shooting from the field. Collins’ growth throughout his career has been incredibly promising.

Each season he has attempted more shots while simultaneously improving his efficiency from 3-point range and on 2-pointers. When a player increases their volume you’re hoping at the very best their efficiency stays level, to see it improve over multiple seasons is a gift that keeps on scoring.

Collins is a good rebounder and at 6’9 can play as either a power forward or a small-ball center. A promising note for his defense is that he has twice ranked in the top-20 in block percentage over his three NBA seasons.

The upside for Collins is as an elite two-way player who can space the floor and be close to a lead option on offense. While his scoring potential remains massive, his passing will make it hard for him to be the de-facto lead option for an offense.

Last year he posted an assist-percentage of 7.6-percent which saw him surrounded by the likes of Brook Lopez and Kyle Kuzma. The hope is that his passing numbers were deflated by the fact that Trae Young shouldered such a massive load of creative responsibilities.

Compared to the first two prospects on this list John Collins is a much safer bet to be a franchise cornerstone. His upside isn’t as high as Michael Porter Jr but even if he never improves from what he is today, he is an All-Star if he’s on a playoff team.

Next: Number 2