Hawks: John Collins’ efficiency, production among best ever for rookies

Hawks rookie John Collins has been impressive so far. (AP Photo)

Hawks center John Collins has been one of the more efficient and productive rookies in the NBA. This was true early in the season, it still held after 15 games and it’s still the case now.

Among first-year players to play at least 20 minutes per game, Collins ranks first in five statistical categories (per Basketball-Reference): effective field-goal percentage, rebounding percentage, rebounds per 36 minutes, blocks percentage and blocks per 36 minutes. Collins ranks second in true shooting percentage and fifth in points per minute among that rookie group.

If Collins keeps it up, some of his statistics will end up comparing favorably with every rookie that’s ever played in the league. Here is where Collins ranks among rookies who played at least 20 minutes per game since 1946-47, according to the Basketball-Reference database:

Obviously, Collins’ numbers require context, most of all the small sample size of 20 games. Several comparable rookies over the years played significantly more minutes per game with bigger roles than Collins. Some all-time NBA greats didn’t play much (or well) as rookies. There are too many variables to make apples-to-apples comparisons.

Still, there is little question that Collins has made a big impact early in his career. Looking at some of the players who ranked below him statistically as rookies hints at Collins’ potential.

Collins so far has a better effective field-goal percentage than Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, Arvydas Sabonis, James Worthy, Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson did as rookies. His rebounding percentage is better than the rookie years of Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Dwight Howard, DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis. Collins’ rebounds per 36 minutes are more than Barkley, Howard, Duncan and Alonzo Mourning produced as rookies.

Collins’ block percentage is better than Joakim Noah, Chris Bosh and Marc Gasol during their rookie seasons. Collins’ Win Shares per 48 minutes are more than those of Howard, Paul Pierce and Manu Ginobili as rookies. His PER is better than then-rookies Pierce, Pau Gasol and Grant Hill.

Again, I’m not asserting that Collins will end up having a better rookie season than those players. I’m surely not saying he will turn out to be as good as those players, who are/were All-NBA or in the Hall of Fame. Collins will have to get better at a lot of things, and play a lot more than 458 minutes, before he can be considered even a good NBA player.

What I’m saying is that Collins is a good rookie right now and (barring injury) he will have a very good rookie season. Collins is among the most efficient scorers and productive rebounders and shot blockers in the league, regardless of experience. He ranks 22nd in effective field-goal percentage, 24th in true shooting percentage, 19th in rebounding percentage, 22nd in rebounds per 36 minutes, 23rd in block percentage and 29th in blocks per 36 minutes.

Collins’ offensive efficiency likely will decline as opponents better account for his assault on the rim. But Collins probably always will be a good rebounder because of his springy athleticism and relentless activity around the basket, and those same reasons are why he’ll produce points without being the focal point of the offense.

There’s a lot to like about Collins as an NBA rookie, and the statistical comparisons show it.

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