By John Hooper
We love John Collins. And as we predicted, John Collins is off to a strong start for the Hawks and is starting to turn heads around the league. After their recent match up, Blake Griffin had some high praise for the rook:
"I like his game a lot. I’ve watched him play this season. Physically he’s ready. He plays the game the right way. He does exactly what I’m assuming he’s suppose to do within their offense. He’s got a super high ceiling."
Collins is best known for his nightly baptisms of the rim, as was Griffin when he came into the league. Griffin's comments and his similar attacking style (at least early in his career) got me thinking, how does Collins' rookie season compare to Blake's?
Here's what we found in looking at their minute and pace adjusted numbers:
Griffin's rookie year was historically good, as he averaged 22/12/4 en route to winning Rookie of the Year in the 2010-11 season. Collins has been very good, but lags behind Griffin most notably as a passer and in his ability to get to the line.
Collins' shooting efficiency has been superior, however, as one of his greatest strengths has been his focused shot selection:
But most importantly, here's how the two compare as dunkers:
An unreal 31.4% of Collins' shot attempts are dunks right now. This makes me so happy.
Overall, Blake's game was more diversified and slightly more impactful as a rookie than Collins, but the fact that it's even a conversation speaks volumes to the value that the Hawks received when they took him 19th in this year's draft.
In looking for another comparable player to Collins who was similarly effective, dunked everything, and played a more linear role offensively, one player jumped out: Shawn Kemp.
Here's the first chart again with Kemp's rookie season included:
The per 100 possession slash lines of Collins and Kemp are remarkably similar. An exciting indicator for Hawks fans is that Collins has a significant edge on Kemp in shooting efficiency in their respective first seasons, which is one of the main components of his superior PER as well.
With Kemp and Griffin in mind as the high-end of Collins' comparable outcomes for his career, we also added in Tyrus Thomas' career as a low-end hypothetical for Collins in the following chart:
Of note is that Collins' current True Shooting Percentage is higher than any year of Griffin's career, all but one year of Kemp's, and is significantly higher than any of Thomas'.
Interestingly, despite Thomas' physical gifts he was never a great finisher, only having two seasons shooting above 60% within three feet of the rim (Collins is shooting 76.0% from that distance).
Just for fun, here's Thomas' season by season shooting percentages:
Long story short, as long as Collins can maintain his frequency and effectiveness on shots near the rim (which seems like a fair bet considering a third of shots are dunks), it looks very likely that his net impact will always be a significant positive. If he can seize a larger role in the Hawks offense while keeping his shooting efficiency near what it is today, we may be witnessing the birth of The Reign Man 2.0.