Just when Hawks fans thought the team could be back at full strength with Trae Young returning from his ankle injury, things get worse.
Early on Tuesday it was announced that John Collins would be suspended 25 games for the anti-drug policy.The thought of potentially losing Young for an extended period time was devastating, but knowing that Collins is gone is tough in itself.
At the beginning of last season the Hawks had to play without Collins due to an injury, and they struggled mightily. We’ve already seen how life is without him, and we’ll have to go through it once again.
A promising defensive presence gone
For the past two years, the knock on Collins has been his defense. He’s a decent size for a power forward, but he’s just not as big as the other 4’s in the league nowadays.
So far this season, it looked like he was putting in work on that side of the ball, the way he’s blocking shots and holding his own against forwards bigger than him. The hawks don’t have another presence like that as a big, so the defense will most likely take a step back in his absence.
This means that Alex Len will have to hold down the paint for time being, and whoever takes Collins place at the forward position. Which leads me to my next point.
Who’s replacing Collins?
The obvious answer here “Should” be Jabari Parker. Parker has been one of the most consistent players on the Hawks bench this season next to DeAndre’ Bembry, as his offense has lifted the second unit.
Parker is relentless when driving to the hole scoring in the paint, and is a force on the boards. His energy will be much needed in the starting lineup, and him and Trae could put up a lot of points together. If Parker isn’t the answer, Pierce might decide to go small and insert Kevin Huerter back into the starting lineup.
This would leave De’Andre Hunter at the 4, where he’s more than capable of holding his own at that position.
How it affects the Hawks down the stretch
With a team that has goals of being better than last year and potentially making the playoffs, this puts a hold on things for sure. Missing your second-best player that’s a 20-10 guy for an extended amount of time is never good, especially when you’re trying to find a groove to start the season.
The hawks came out on fire early, and the injury to Young put a stamp on that start. Now that you add Young back and subtract Collins, it doesn’t make things better. In these 25 games, we’ll see this team’s true identity and if they can hold up without Collins.
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