The dust has settled from the Trial Blazers’ exit from postseason competition. Free agency, roster construction and the NBA Draft have crept into everyday conversation in Rip City. Before we turn the page on the longest season in the Blazers’ 50-year history, let’s take another look at the players that populated the roster during that journey.
Yesterday’s installment looked at the strides that Nassir Little made during his first season in the NBA. Today, we cover two players that dealt with significant injuries in the 2019-20 season.
Games: 11 (11 starts) | PTS: 7.0 | REB: 6.3 | BLK: 0.5 | FG%: 47.1
The stage was set for Zach Collins to undertake a larger role in the starting lineup after the Trail Blazers parted ways with Al-Farouq Aminu, Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard in the summer of 2019. Unfortunately, his 2019-20 season came to abrupt end after just three games. Against the Mavericks, Collins got tangled up with Luka Doncic while pursing a rebound and dislocated his left shoulder. Given the nature and severity of the dislocation, Collins underwent surgery—a process that would keep him out of action until the season resumed in Orlando.
Once the league restarted play, Collins hit the ground running in the starting lineup. On the positive side, the former Gonzaga standout jumped back into the role that was slotted for him at the start of the year. On the flip side, Collins’ injury absence combined with his lack of run with the starters in his first two seasons to produce some head-scratching results. During his eight outings in the bubble, he averaged 6.3 points per game while shooting 46.9 percent from the field (33.3 percent from beyond the arc). Defensively, Collins’ production looked familiar: he covered a lot of space quickly and racked up fouls in the process.
Prior to the start of the NBA Playoffs, Collins suffered another injury. During the play-in game against the Grizzlies, the third-year big man exited with a left ankle Malleolar stress reaction, an injury that requires surgery.
Due to his lack of run inside the starting lineup, Collins once again enters a new season as a relative mystery. His defensive versatility meshes seamlessly with Jusuf Nurkic’s ability to fortify the restricted area. Offensively, he has yet to prove that he has a marketable skill in halfcourt sets. Regardless of his early-career struggles, the Blazers have invested too much in Collins to get squeamish now.
Games: 21 (21 starts) | PTS: 11.0 | REB: 3.4 | FG%: 50.6 | 3P%: 49.3
Tucked under the injuries to Nurkic and Collins is the absolute gut punch that was Rodney Hood’s torn achilles. From the team side, the Blazers lost one of the most efficient tertiary players in the entire NBA. Hood was putting up absolutely staggering numbers. He connected on 50.6 percent of his shots from the field and 49.3 percent of his attempts from distance—a combination that led to a stellar effective field goal percentage of 60.8. If Hood’s 21-game run to start the 2019-20 would have spanned an entire season, he would have set career-highs in all three of those areas.
From the human side of the situation, Hood’s season-ending injury was tragic. Armed with a player option in his contract, Hood could have cruised into free agency as one of the hottest commodities on the market. Barring a significant change, it is now likely that Hood re-ups and returns to Portland next season for the second year of his deal.
It is not all doom and gloom when reviewing Hood’s 2019-20 season, though. Starting in the spring, Hood started delivering steady and positive updates regarding his recovery. In June, the Blazers highlighted the work that Hood was putting in at the team’s facility.
Hoodie— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) June 12, 2020
via Hoodie5 / IG pic.twitter.com/nWM56af6Wx
Recovering from an achilles injury is no easy task for anyone, especially for athletes performing at the highest level. Even with that in mind, it appears that Hood has the perfect mindset for overcoming a setback of this magnitude. Hopefully Hood returns to his steady, floor-spacing ways once next season gets underway.