Former Gonzaga star Zach Collins may have walked across the stage in a Kings hat, but he will be swapping that out soon for a Trail Blazers one. The Kings traded Collins’s rights to Portland in exchange for the 15th and 20th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. He is the first one-and-done in Gonzaga’s history.
Immediately, Collins seems like a perfect fit for what the Blazers need. Portland currently boasts one of the best backcourts in the NBA with a pair of former mid-major greats in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, but does not have much to speak of in terms of their front court outside of Jusuf Nurkić.
The Blazers ranked just 15th in the NBA in team rebounding last season. Collins provides an immediate answer to this problem. He is a true seven-footer who averaged 13.4 rebounds per 40 minutes last year. Collins should pair nicely next to Nurkić in the post.
Portland is also an ideal situation for Collins. He will have the opportunity to be a starter on a playoff team where he will not be asked to do too much right off the bat. His immediate impact will be mostly as a rebounder and a rim protector, which is exactly what Portland needs him to be. He is quick enough to defend against smaller teams like the Warriors, but also big enough to defend elite centers in the Western Conference like Rudy Gobert and DeAndre Jordan.
Collins also demonstrated his ability to step out and shoot last season, albeit with a small sample size. He shot 10-21 on 3-pointers last season, something he may be asked to do more of in the NBA.
If there is one notable weakness in Collins’ game, it is his propensity to foul. He fouled out of seven games this past season, which was the most of any player in the country coming off the bench. He will need to improve his footwork in the post in order to correct this problem and stay on the court for significant minutes.
The future looks bright for Collins in Portland, and he has the potential to be a cornerstone of this franchise for years to come.