With every passing game and every subsequent double-double the whispers get louder.
John Collins is in his second season out of Wake Forrest, but his reputation is beginning to develop around the league as a potential All-Star. The numbers speak for themselves and they represent a significant jump from last season. Collins is averaging 19 points per game which is seventh among power forwards along with 10.4 rebounds per game which is third among power forwards.
Collins added another double-double on Monday as he scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the Hawks’ 122-103 loss to the Orlando Magic.
Why isn’t the beating drum for Collins’ candidacy more than a whisper with numbers like that? Collins opened the season wearing a suit after an ankle injury delayed his season’s start. Collins’ numbers aren’t posted in comparison of the NBA’s other elite power forwards yet. His stats aren’t yet allowed to be qualified with those of players that meet the minimum games played. Collins has played in 29 of the Hawks’ 46 games this season.
Couple that with the Hawks only playing two nationally televised games to this point in the season and Collins is a bit of an unknown. That hasn’t kept the corners of the internet from starting to recognize the second-year big from Wake Forest as a fast riser through the ranks of young players. Hawks’ fan pages have popped up in Collins’ honor to campaign for him to be at the All-Star Game in Charlotte in a little over a month.
It’s appreciated by Collins. Collins has always been an under the radar player. He was only the 19th pick in the NBA Draft after averaging nearly 20 points per game in college. He didn’t have many college offers throughout his college recruitment.
“I really appreciate it, because anybody that’s truly been a fan knows it’s been a struggle for me to get some bigger media attention just with colleges and team situations,” Collins said. “That’s just the cards I’ve been dealt. I appreciate them for trying to help me out and give me some more buzz that I think I’ve definitely earned this far through the season.”
Collins isn't whispering. He feels his name should be in the conversation. As a person that likes to let his play do the talking, Collins has gone out and put up 19 double-doubles.
"I definitely feel like I deserve to be an All-Star,” Collins said. “I like to just let my play do the talking. I do definitely feel like I deserve to be in the conversation this year. Whether I make it or not, so be it. But I definitely feel like I deserve some conversation with the way I’ve been playing as of late.”
Collins’ jump from 10.5 points per game in his rookie season to 19 points per game this season has been one of the Hawks’ biggest surprises. The scoring ability was seen in college, but the almost instant impact in that category has been a pleasant surprise. Collins admits his play so far has exceeded his expectations for himself.
“It lets me know that I’ve been playing at a higher level than even the expectations that I put on myself for this year,” Collins said. “I’ve definitely exceeded those expectations. To get chosen as one, which hopefully I do, I couldn’t really put into words right now how it would feel. That’s a huge accomplishment for somebody that’s only in their second year. I pray and hope that I can get that decision. It’s definitely a big step in my career if I could get that.”
In the off season, Collins did a lot of the same things he’s always done to prepare for a season and he added some size and strength and so far, the game has looked a lot easier than it did last season. The All-Star conversation is only validation that his hard work is paying off.
“It’s been really fulfilling so far. Just to see all that hard work pay off. To see the same stuff, I’ve been doing my whole career sort of work at an elite level. It lets me know that I belong in this league and that I belong in that conversation of being a fringe All-Star guy this year. I feel I should be that way for the rest of my career if I continue to play the way I am and if I continue to work the way I do. Everything that’s coming to me is worked for and I’m going to continue to try and earn that.”