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Atlanta glad John Collins dropped to them in 2017 NBA Draft, now reaping the rewards

Hawks, John Collins

Atlanta Hawks big man John Collins has been every bit of the standout the organization expected him to be, now reaping the rewards of selecting him with the 19th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

Collins looked like an outright fit in the league last season with his height, body and rim-rocking athleticism from the get-go, impressing in Summer League while slowly finding his footing in the rotation. Now in his second year and under a new coach in Lloyd Pierce, the big man has returned from an inflamed left ankle injury to quickly show his invaluable skill set, one Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk is more than happy about.

“Listen, we had John ranked higher on our board than where he was drafted. We were happy to see he was still there,” said Schlenk, according to Chris Kirschner of The Athletic.

“One of the things that we really liked about John was the growth he showed in his game from his freshman year at Wake [Forest] to his sophomore year. He had a great summer. He stuck around here and got a lot of work in through a lot of change. We redid the training staff. We redid the coaching staff. It wasn’t a perfect offseason for a young player. Seeing the growth he had during his freshman to sophomore year at Wake, we expected to see some growth here, and we’re really excited what he’s going to be able to do with one continuous staff. We’re excited about him and his upside as he gets more experience and becomes an older player.”

Collins has quickly turned into a nightly double-double threat, posting 18.8 points and 10.6 rebounds through 25 games this season, all while shooting a beefy 58.2 percent while attempting nearly twice the shots he had last season — venturing into the three-point line and canning treys at a respectable 34.5 percent.

On the eve of his 100th NBA game, Collins has yet to lose his nose for the ball, ensnaring a shade under four offensive rebounds per game, coming off a career-high 30-point performance on Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets.