Two months into the 2017-18 season, Bleacher Report lead NBA Draft writer Jonathan Wasserman has prepared his early grades for first-round picks of this year’s rookie class. Several players will have no qualms proudly displaying their report card on the refrigerator with a team-branded magnet, while others accidentally misplace theirs on the bus ride home. Portland Trail Blazers center Zach Collins falls into the latter category.
After playing 20 minutes total in November, Zach Collins is averaging 17.7 minutes a game through December.
We've only learned that Collins isn't ready. He's totaled 40 points and 28 fouls on the year, shooting 25.0 percent on post-ups and 28.6 percent on catch-and-shoot jumpers. Collins is capable with his back to the basket and knocking down spot-ups, but it doesn't appear we'll see it consistently this year.
His rebounding percentage (13.7 percent) is also significantly lower than what he registered at Gonzaga (18.3 percent), when he played mostly mid-major competition.
Collins looks like he'll need his rookie season to work on his body, sharpen his skills and learn the NBA whistle.
Grades were determined based on performance relative to expectation. Collins was the only player selected in the top 10 to receive a grade lower than ‘C,’ with Philadelphia 76ers point guard Markelle Fultz receiving an Incomplete.
Although the first two months do not make or break a rookie’s NBA career, it is enough on-court time to drop the sample size caveat when evaluating players that see regular minutes. Going long stretches between brief flashes of potential, Collins has plainly not been good.
That said, this is not entirely unexpected. Collins is a 20-year-old center, playing off the bench, listed at only two pounds above his college weight. It is going to take time and patience for him to excel. As Wasserman suggests, “We’ve only learned that Collins isn’t ready.” Still, one would have hoped to see more from him to this point.
The Trail Blazers’ other rookie, Caleb Swanigan, fell into Wasserman’s injured/benchwarmer group, having played only six total minutes in the last 15 games, and not receiving a grade.