Since being selected 10th overall in the 2017 NBA Draft, Portland Trail Blazers rookie Zach Collins has gone through...to put it mildly...an “adjustment period”. He’s endured criticism from national media, speculation about his future from local analysts, and plenty of tutelage from Blazers Head Coach Terry Stotts. According to Jason Quick of NBCSports Northwest, patience with Collins’ learning curve is starting to pay off, as evidenced by his 15-point performance in Portland’s victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night. Even that grand display was not without its share of bumps, as Quick reports. But Stotts’ tenacity with Collins is allowing him to deliver in ways visible to more than just the coaching staff.
Quick begins his column by listing a series of mistakes made by Collins against the Clippers, culminating in this moment following a blown screen for Damian Lillard:
From the 200 level, fans could hear Stotts, red-faced and arms spread in exasperation:
Stotts turned his head and sat on the scorer’s table in frustration. After Lillard drew a foul, Stotts remained leaning on the scorer’s table. When he established eye contact with Collins he nodded and sternly clapped twice, as if to awaken the rookie out of his trance.
“That’s the one that set him off,’’ Collins said. “He just kind of sat down and looked at me like, ‘C’mon.’’
Then followed the rookie’s big night, with Lillard giving Collins props and Stotts full credit for riding through the bumps with confidence:
“But Coach deserves a lot of credit for the trust he has shown in him,’’ Lillard said. “He’s playing consistent minutes, playing in big moments, he’s hit big shots, he’s had big blocks, and that’s given him a lot of confidence and made everyone else trust him. So if he has a bad start, it’s not like we are looking at him like, Zach is struggling, we need to get him out, … we know, he’ll figure it out.‘’
Quick’s article has much more, including Collins talking about his methods of coping, interior scoring, and more from Lillard.