What the John Collins injury means for the Hawks

(AP Photo)

If the Hawks were in trouble with center Dewayne Dedmon on the shelf for up to six weeks, they are really going to struggle with rookie John Collins out for up to three. That’s the bad news for the Hawks.

The good (and more important) news is that Collins doesn’t appear to need surgery and won’t have to miss the the bulk of the season. An MRI performed this morning showed a Grade 2 sprian. It’s not an insignificant injury–it involves a complete tear of one ligament and a partial tear of another, according to Harvard Medial School–but it could have been a lot worse.

Collins, the No. 19 overall pick, has been one of the best rookies in the league so far. He has a chance to become a core player for the Hawks as they continue rebuilding their roster with draft picks and other young players. Missing a couple of weeks because of injury isn’t ideal for Collins but it’s not a major setback for his development.

It is a big blow for the Hawks now, though. Dedmon and Collins joined Mike Muscala on the injured list, leaving the Hawks with four players in the power rotation: Ersan Ilyasova, Luke Babbitt, Tyler Cavanaugh and Miles Plumlee. The Hawks’ roster is at the limit of 15 and both “two-way” player slots are filled (Cavanaugh and Josh Magette).

Collins had started the past three games, two at power forward with Babbitt out and one at center after Dedmon’s injury. With Plumlee as the only healthy center, coach Mike Budenholzer will have to put him in the starting lineup or go with a center-less alignment.

We saw that last night when Budenholzer had llyasova with Cavanaugh (and then Babbitt) in the frontcourt. That wasn’t such a bad mismatch against the Cavs, who don’t have much size in the frontcourt, but it could be a problem against teams with bigger centers who can take advantage of the Hawks missing their two best rebounders and rim defenders.

But that’s a small, short-term problems for the Hawks. They avoided a big long-term problem when Collins got the relatively good diagnosis.

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