New team in the running for John Collins

The Atlanta Hawks are still buying John Collins as the trade deadline approaches. Now, NBA trade rumors have identified a surprising new suitor.

A half-dozen teams have reportedly been linked to the Atlanta Hawks and John Collins, including the Utah Jazz, New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Lakers and more. The 25-year-old power forward has seen his player count drop across the board this season, but there’s plenty of optimism he could bounce back in a new situation.

Collins is currently averaging 13.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game and shooting just 26.3 percent from beyond the arc. However, just two years ago, he was averaging 17.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists and shooting 39.9 percent over the arc. How he’s used can explain more of his struggles than any actual decline in his abilities.

Recently, The Athletic’s Kelly Iko reported that the Houston Rockets had emerged as a new potential contender for Collins. Reportedly, the structure of any particular deal was not discussed, but Houston has expressed interest.

What could John Collins do for the Houston Rockets?

One of the reasons Collins’ numbers have gone down is because he’s playing a lot more minutes with traditional centers like Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu. This pairing usually means Collins is relegated to the corner as a spot-up shooter, rather than putting him in the center of the floor and in the pick-and-roll, where his athleticism, touch, and vertical blast create huge advantages .

Collins could use those tools on the Rockets’ young ballhandlers like Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr., but there are questions about the fit. Pairing him with Alperen Sengun would cause many of the same problems he has in Atlanta’s rotation, and playing him in a smaller upfront with Jabari Smith Jr. would free up space but put a lot of rim protection responsibility on Smith. Collins has become a solid defender in space, but he doesn’t have the physical presence to anchor a defensive line.

Still, his offensive advantages and versatility might be too great for the Rockets to pass up, especially if they can strike a deal without giving up their first-round pick in the 2023 NBA draft – which has a good chance of being a top 3 for the chance to choose a game changer from a loaded class.

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