Just two years after being drafted 10th overall in the 2017 NBA Draft, Portland Trail Blazers forward Zach Collins finally seems to be on the precipice of a breakthrough. The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman recently explored the 21-year-old’s development, with anecdotes on Collins’ early basketball IQ and his relationship with his father.
According to Freeman, Collins looked up to players such as Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan from a young age. But aside from just admiring them as players, he made sure to study their moves and keep meticulous notes in a variety of different notebooks.
Mike Collins was amazed that his middle-school-aged son was embracing his passion with such dedication. But even more, he was impressed at the level of detail he put into his passion. His notes were meticulous.
“He wouldn’t write, ‘Timmy,’” Mike Collins said. “He’d write ‘TD.’ And his breakdown was specific. ‘TD. Shoulder, shoulder, power dribble, baby hook.’ He was breaking down his moves.”
This year Collins plans to change his mindset. The Gonzaga product has picked up yoga and meditation while trying to read more, with the goal of controlling his emotions throughout a long and trying season.
“I’m way too hard on myself and always have been,” Collins said. “I’m my own worst critic and I have a bad habit of getting down on myself. The last two years, I was killing myself, really, just mentally getting on myself and thinking about what happened three or four plays before instead of just moving on.”
Freeman went on to talk about how Collins has impressed his teammates throughout the preseason.
“I like what he’s doing,” Lillard said of Collins. “He’s being really aggressive and assertive and I think that’s growth. In the past, he didn’t want to step on anybody’s toes or try too hard. To see him confident and aggressive, taking shots when he’s open, trying to score when he gets the ball on the block, playing aggressive defensively and being really vocal on the defensive end, you can tell he’s trying to step into being that guy at the four spot. And that’s what we’re going to need from him.”
The opportunity may never be bigger for Collins to cement his place in coach Terry Stotts’ starting rotation. You can read Freeman’s entire feature here.