Note: This piece is the final part of a two-part series where we examine former Gonzaga big and NBA Draft prospect Zach Collins. The first piece was about how Collins stood as one of the best rim protectors in this year’s NBA Draft. Today we’re going to finish out by looking at his performance on the offensive end.
Back on Friday afternoon’s piece on Zach Collins, we went on and on about how Collins shined as arguably the finest rim protector in this year’s draft class. Of course, a lot of that status rests with how he averaged 4.1 blocks per game per 40 minutes, which stood as the best average among NBA Draft prospects. In addition to that, Collins also stands as a unique type of rim protector that can defend against both cutting guards and inside the paint against opposing bigs.
Although he definitely impresses on the defensive end, that shouldn’t allow us to overlook his performance on offense. As a freshman, Collins put up 23.3 points, 13.7 rebounds (3.9 offensive boards) on 65% from the field and 48% from beyond the arc on 1.3 perimeter attempts per 40 minutes.
That kind of efficiency was enough for him to maintain an extremely impressive 70% True Shooting Percentage. Among 2017 NBA Draft prospects, those numbers were good enough to put Collins in the top-10 in the following categories: points (9th), offensive rebounds (5th) and True Shooting Percentage (1st).
Collins was able to be such an efficient offensive weapon due to how he just spent the majority of his time inside the paint. Rather than trying to establish himself as a perimeter threat like some young prospects, Collins stuck to the “meat and potatoes” of what being a front-court weapon: working in post-ups and pick-and-rolls.
As a freshman, Collins exhibited himself to be a pretty intriguing post-up threat as he displayed a knack of working on both the left and right block. Collins stood as an efficient weapon on both sides of the paint as he averaged 1.263 PPP (Points Per Possession) on the left block and 1.037 PPP on the right block.
A mixture of solid footwork and a soft touch had a lot to do with how incredibly efficient Collins was as a low-post scorer. As far as that footwork, Collins was able to create separation from the opposition by utilizing side steps or spin moves. On the other hand, Collins can use a classic hook shot to score, which he can do with both his left and right hand. An example of Collins’ soft touch is evident in the play below.
Another way that Collins is able to shine inside the paint is as an offensive rebounder. As a freshman, he averaged 3.6 offensive boards per 40 minutes, which placed Collins 5th among the NBA Draft prospects. Those numbers were due to Collins working his ass off in box-outs as he’s shown a knack of being able to retrieve a rebound despite being surrounded by two or more opposing bigs. After that initial catch, Collins is usually quick to put back in the basket due to his soft hands and quick instincts.
While Collins spends most of his time in the paint, whether it’s in the low post or the offensive glass, he has a bevy of potential when he moves closer to the perimeter. Over the course of the season, Collins irregularly showcased that he has a pretty shooting stroke that occasionally spread from behind the college three-point line. In a total of 21 perimeter attempts as a freshman, Collins impressed by shooting 48%. Although that’s an incredibly sample size, it does showcase that Collins may have some potential in this area.
Looking away from those numbers, Collins’ potential as a shooter is also evident just by looking at his shooting stroke. Whether he’s shooting from beyond or inside the arc, Collins exhibits a pretty looking jumper that’s quick and has a high release point. An example of his stroke is seen in the play below where he throws up a pretty perimeter jumper in Gonzaga’s Final Four game against South Carolina.
As Zach Collins looks to embark on the start of his pro career with this month’s NBA Draft, there’s a lot of reasons to be optimistic. In a draft class that’s just filled with one-and-done players, Collins probably has one of the highest floors.
Collins’ persistence as an offensive rebounder and versatility on the defensive end should push him to have an immediate role on an NBA squad. Coinciding with that, he also has a lot of upside as a perimeter shooter and post-up threat. If Collins can slowly evolve those two traits, he could realistically wind up as one of the biggest steals in this year’s NBA Draft.