The Portland Trail Blazers got into the action in a trade-heavy 2017 NBA Draft tonight, moving the 15th and 20th selections to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for the 10th pick: F/C Zach Collins of Gonzaga University.
Collins comes in as a legit 7-footer at 230 pounds and 19-years old. The Blazers will pair him with Jusuf Nurkić, hoping that he’ll evolve into a floor spacer/energy big that allows Nurkić to maximize his potential inside, complementing Portland’s Big Three without needing the ball. Collins will try to push Noah Vonleh, another young forward with promise, for minutes.
Collins’ progression from draftee to rotation player may not be seamless. Though his shooting looked impressive in workouts, In his one year at Gonzaga, Collins didn’t demonstrate consistent ability to stretch his offensive game away from the rim. He has the ability to knock down a 10-foot jumper, he has yet to show he can be an NBA stretch-4. He was tremendous around the rim where he feasted on put backs, tip-ins, and offensive rebounds and he has the proverbial “motor”, but he lacks elite level athleticism and length to pair with that 7-foot frame.
The negatives plaguing Collins resemble those of nearly all young big men. He commits careless mistakes and turnovers; he’s foul prone. According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer,
Has concerning intangibles. Gets visibly frustrated when things don’t go his way, which leads to losing focus or being tentative.
If you’re looking for upside, Collins trends towards a “plus” face up game and the ability to both pick and pop AND pick and roll. A rarity among today’s NBA big men.
Seth Davis of CBS Sports and SethsDraftHouse.com had this to say about Collins:
“It seems everyone is really high on him right now. He’s a guy with size and athleticism and he showed some rim protection. He doesn’t have ideal frame and length you’d like for a dominating big man. He’s going to have to be high level skilled. He’s probably helped by the fact that he didn’t play a ton and finished with such a flourish. Got a little nasty streak to him. He’s probably back of the lottery. He’ll be able to shoot corner threes.”
Collins plays at a position of need for Portland. Moving up to get a player they like was a smarter move than selecting multiple players they weren’t high on. From those perspectives, the trade makes sense. If nothing else, Collins joins a bevy of young frontcourt assets, possibly allowing the Blazers to make another move down the road. If he becomes their stretch forward of the future, so much the better.