ESPN: Hawks’ John Collins is fifth-best rookie

John Collins is rising up in the rookie rankings. (AP Photo)

Hawks rookie John Collins wasn’t a lottery pick and he’s playing 22.9 minutes per game for the team with the worst record in the NBA. Those factors mean Collins typically isn’t included among the national discussions about the league’s top rookies but ESPN.com’s Kevin Pelton includes Collins among his first rookie rankings (Insider).

Pelton ranks Collins No. 5 behind Ben Simmons (Sixers), Jayson Tatum (Celtics), Donovan Mitchell (Jazz) and OG Anunoby (Raptors). Simmons, Tatum and Mitchell were lottery picks, while Anunoby was selected four spots behind Collins, the No. 19 overall pick.

In explaining why Collins ranks fifth, Pelton cites factors Hawks watchers know well about Collins: he’s productive, efficient and particularly effective as a pick-and-roll rim runner. Writes Pelton:

Because he’s coming off the bench for a 7-23 team, Collins’ production has been somewhat overshadowed. Quietly, he’s averaging 17.7 points and 11.1 rebounds per 36 minutes while making an even 60 percent of his 2-point attempts. Collins’ explosiveness around the basket has helped him record 49 dunks, the league’s eighth-highest total, per Basketball-Reference.com.

With those high-percentage finishes, Collins’ 54.4 percent shooting as a roll man in the pick-and-roll ranks seventh among players with at least 50 such attempts, according to Synergy Sports tracking on NBA.com/Stats.

I’ve noted before that Collins’ statistical production and efficiency in several categories compare favorably with every rookie in the Basketball-Reference database, going back to 1946-47. Collins’ standing has only improved since then among all rookies who’ve averaged at least 20 minutes.

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