The Atlanta Hawks are once again shopping John Collins. The sixth-year power forward has been in the rumor mill for what seems like ages, but this is the first time that a deal feels more likely than not. It’s rare for a player like Collins to become available at this stage of their career. He’s young, productive, and on a contract that is looking more and more team-friendly.
It should come as no surprise that the Houston Rockets, among other teams, are rumored to be interested. Collins represents a significant opportunity for a franchise to acquire an in their prime player for a fraction of the cost of what they could produce in another uniform.
Collins might be a distressed asset, but he offers obvious upside. Why the Hawks are willing to move him has less to do with his talent and more to do with their roster construction. New additions have seen his role diminish over the years, and the Hawks’ asset cupboard is bare. He’s their best option to move to not dramatically alter the quality of their current team while also giving them enough ammunition to make another large move to leap into contender status.
John Collins was on an All-Star track
If I told you a player averaged 20.3 points per game on a 60.9% effective field goal percentage (the league average was 52.6%) across their age 21 and 22 seasons, you would assume that player was a burgeoning All-Star. You would also assume that the player’s team would actively try and foster their growth. In the case of John Collins, neither of those assumptions would be correct.
Across 41 games in 2019-20, Collins averaged 21.6 points per game on a 63.2% effective field goal percentage (eFG%). Those numbers alone will get you All-Star looks, but from a 22-year-old, they suggest an incredibly bright future. Collins wasn’t a half-season wonder. He averaged 19.5 points on a 59.3% eFG% the season before. The Hawks had an impact player on their hands in John Collins. What happens next is both understandable and perplexing.
Following Collin’s explosive 2019-20, instead of seeing his usage continue to increase, the Hawks scaled it back. In 2019-20 he averaged 14.8 field goal attempts. The next season it dropped to 12.2, then 11.9 in 2021-22, and this season, it sits at 10.4.
The Hawks had what looked like a future All-Star and have slowly converted them into a role player as they enter their prime and the reason why is relatively simple. The Hawks were and still are built around Trae Young.