Zach Lowe of ESPN contends that both Zach Collins and Rodney Hood deserve praise for their contributions during the Portland Trail Blazers’ playoff push. After digging into what Hood has brought to the floor on offense, Lowe examines what Collins has added, especially when playing alongside Hood. Lowe notes the “edgy and roaring big man” was a gamble for Portland, who traded up to acquire Collins in the 2017 draft, but it is one that is now paying off in the playoffs.
The Blazers have outscored Denver by 22 points in 113 minutes with Hood and Collins on the floor, per NBA.com. They have played together mostly in bench-and-McCollum lineups that have generally won the starts of second and fourth quarters. Denver has countered with lineups featuring Millsap as the lone starter, but those groups have been a disaster despite Millsap’s best “adult in the room” efforts.
Lowe outlines matchups where Collins may be effective, and gives a preview of what Collins’ battle against Nikola Jokic may look like.
Malone will surely stretch Nikola Jokic as far as he can go, and he has already gone a preposterous 65 minutes in one epic game in this series. Portland has been wary of matching Collins and Jokic in center-versus-center minutes. Jokic can bulldoze Collins in the post, though Collins thwarted him on one key faceup attack late in Game 6 and drew a charge about a minute later on one of those delicious inverted Jokic pick-and-rolls. Doubling Jokic only unlocks his lethal passing game. Collins is vulnerable on the defensive glass. He’s still filling out. Keep an eye on the minutes chess match.
According to Lowe, Collins possesses extensive defensive utility: because he can play the four and the five, he can slide in alongside either Evan Turner or Enes Kanter. On offense, he has gained more confidence shooting from range, especially coming off of a pick-and-pop. Lowe concludes with assurances that Rip City has much to look forward to with Zach Collins. You can read the entire piece here.