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While the Atlanta Hawks have been struggling, rookie forward John Collins has been excellent at the start.
In fact, you could make the case that Collins has been every bit as good as Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball — who is riding the Hollywood hype machine, at least partially manufactured by the media’s fascination with his father.
Unlike Ball, Collins arrived to the NBA with little fanfare. He is a 6-foot-10 power forward who entered the draft following his sophomore season at Wake Forest. The Hawks grabbed him with the 19th overall selection.
Through five games with the Hawks, he is averaging 12.0 points and 7.2 rebounds. That included a 14-point, 13-rebound performance vs. Brooklyn, and a 14-point, 11-rebound performance vs. Miami.
On top of that, Collins is shooting 57 percent from the floor.
In other words, take note fantasy basketball owners. This kid is your sleeper pickup.
“I’m always envisioning myself scoring 30 a night,” Collins told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s not reality, but double digits is definitely something that’s feasible, something I can work for just by being out there and working hard.”
Collins was the the first-ever pick by new Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk and his staff. Schlenk came over from the Golden State Warriors, a winning program that built its championship club mostly via the draft.
And the Warriors did it with little buzz on draft night — with the likes of Steph Curry (No. 7 overall, 2009) and Klay Thompson (No. 11, 2011) barely receiving notice at the time. Of course, the Warriors also nabbed forward Draymond Green in the second round (No. 35) overall.
So yes, Schlenk hopes to bring some of that Warriors drafting mastery to the Hawks.
With Collins as the lone example, it’s so far, so good.