The Trail Blazers received a significant boost to their defense when Zach Collins returned to the floor on Thursday, an appearance that ended an extended injury absence for the former Gonzaga standout. Regardless of the Blazers’ loss to the Pacers to open scrimmage play in Orlando, it is clear that Collins’ return is a significant addition.
Following Saturday’s practice, NBC Sports Northwest’s Jamie Hudson highlighted Damian Lillard’s comments regarding Collins. Lillard explained that the 22-year-old big man is versatile and tough.
“I think regardless of which group he’s in the game with, I think he’s the same,” Lillard said. “Nurk and Hassan are different players, so there might be opportunity for [Zach] to do different things… but I don’t think his role really changes. He’ll be the same. Defensively — Zach is one of our best defenders. He’s a good rebounder, he’s tough, a great defender, he can switch one through five and have an impact on the game that way. He’ll be picking and popping and finding those spots… regardless of which group of five men he’s in the game with… I don’t think much changes for him.”
Collins, who averaged 9.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game in just three appearances this season, is currently packed into a loaded frontcourt for the Blazers. When asked about the possibility of fulfilling a role off the bench, Collins revealed that he is open to undertaking whatever task is necessary for Portland to win as many games as possible.
“I’m going to have to be a star in my role, whatever that is — if I’m starting or coming off the bench and that’s been my motto from day one. You take pride in being a starter and that’s something that I’ve always wanted to be in this league, and I want to be a starter for the rest of my career, but if me coming off the bench helps us win a championship, I’m a hundred percent in.”
You can read Hudson’s full story at NBC Sports Northwest.