John Collins may have been the most improved player in college basketball last season.
The 6’10” sophomore for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons dominated some of the best competition in the nation and was named the ACC’s Most Improved Player. Averaging 19.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks in 26.6 minutes per game, Collins’ numbers are comparable to those of the Wake Forest great, Tim Duncan.
In Duncan’s sophomore season, he averaged 16.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 4.2 blocks in 36.5 minutes per game.
If you compare the numbers on a per 40 minute basis, Collins averaged 10.4 more points, 1.1 more rebounds, and 2.2 less blocks.
Let me make myself clear: John Collins is no Tim Duncan, but his numbers sure are impressive.
Collins proved to be the most efficient Wake Forest big man since Duncan. In fact, the 19-year-old was statistically the most efficient player in the country this year according to Sports Reference.
With a player efficiency rating (PER) of 35.9, Collins puts himself in good company. Notable NBA players who also led the NCAA in PER are DeMarcus Cousins (34.2), Kenneth Faried (34.7), Anthony Davis (35.1), Kelly Olynyk (36.2), and Frank Kaminsky (34.4).
The Wake Forest big man excels offensively in pick & roll plays and finishing near the basket. With 1.61 points per play (PPP) in pick & roll situations, Collins led the NCAA in the category per DraftExpress.
Collins’ success in the pick & roll is due to his screening ability. The big man makes solid contact on the on-ball defender, which frees up space for the guard and a lane to the basket. The athletic big also tends to play above the rim, so he’s able to catch lobs and finish strong.
Although he showed an improved mid-range game, Collins is at his best in the post. His athleticism allows him to score with his back to the basket or by facing up his defender, and his high release allows him to shoot uncontested as evidenced in the image below.
As aforementioned, Collins has also shown improvement in his mid-range shooting, which is one of the reasons for his 62.4% field goal percentage on the year. The photo below shows the edge of where Collins is comfortable in this made field goal.
See DraftExpress.com’s video below to see their analysis on his strengths.
Although Collins improved his mid-range game, he has yet to show he can extend beyond that. The 6’10” forward/center did not attempt a single three point field goal in his sophomore season, which is one of the few knocks on his offensive game.
Ironically enough, while Collins excels in most areas on the offensive end, he struggles in most areas on the defensive end.
In analyzing his defense, Collins tends to find himself out of position both on the floor and in his defensive stance. This leads to backdoor cuts and easy buckets for the opposing team. Fortunately, his athletic abilities are able to bail him out at times such as blocking a shot from behind, but his athleticism will not stand out as much in the NBA as it did in college.
At 225 lbs., Collins also struggles physically against traditional centers. This leads me to think he is best suited as a 4 or small-ball 5 in today’s NBA. Nonetheless, the 19-year-old will develop physically and gain strength over time, which will help him hold his ground in the post.
Here is DraftExpress.com’s breakdown of John Collins’ weaknesses.
Ultimately, Collins will most likely contribute off the bench for his first few years in the NBA. Pairing him alongside Pacers big men Al Jefferson or Kevin Seraphin would not be a great fit due to their inside presence and inability to space the floor. Two big men who are unable to create space clogs the paint and discourages penetration.
However, in a long-term perspective, Collins would fit nicely next to Myles Turner should he develop the ability to start. The Wake Forest big shows great promise as someone who can rebound well and score inside. With Turner’s ability to stretch the floor, Collins could play near the basket and play to his strengths.
If the Indiana Pacers are looking for a long-term forward to play alongside Myles Turner, John Collins may be the best prospect.
You can follow me on Twitter @EvanOnSBNation