Scouting Report by Jonathan Givony. Video Analysis by Mike Schmitz
Zach Collins arrived at Gonzaga as a McDonald's All-American, but nevertheless exceeded expectations significantly. He put up some of the best numbers in the country among freshmen on a per-minute basis (23 points, 13 rebounds per-40, 67% 2P%, 31.5 PER), and finished the season on as strong a note as you can possibly hope for, leading Gonzaga to the NCAA Tournament Championship game and playing extremely well in both Final Four games. Thus, there wasn't much surprise when Collins decided to enter the draft following the season, even though NBA scouts never quite got to see him in a featured role playing behind an All-American senior in center Prezmek Karnowski.
Collins has a strong physical profile, standing 7-feet tall with impressive athletic ability. He lacks a degree of length and reach, but makes up for that with his agility running the floor, covering ground and playing above the rim in space. He's extremely light on his feet for a player his size, and does a nice job of elevating off two feet on both ends of the floor.
Collins is a versatile offensive player, not particularly consistent in any one area, but showing a nice frame-work of skills to build off. He shows flashes of being able to do a little bit of everything at this early stage of his development, and was both highly prolific and efficient as a freshman, despite his lack of experience and polish.
Collins did a great job of playing off the bevy of tremendous passers and shooting that characterized this deep and talented Gonzaga squad. He got quite a few baskets sprinting ahead of the defense in the open floor, and was a consistent target for lobs, dump-offs and pick and roll finishes thanks to his soft hands, and ability to get off his feet quickly, converting an impressive 70% of his attempts around the rim according to Synergy Sports Tech.
Collins also flashes of developing into a consistent jump-shooter, knocking down 10 of his 21 3-point attempts as a freshman. While this is a small sample size, his mechanics and touch leave plenty of room for optimism, especially stepping into pick and pop 3-pointers in rhythm, and he's consistently demonstrated potential as a jump-shooter even prior to arriving at Gonzaga. The next step in Collins' evolution as a shooter is to quicken his release, extend his range, and become more confident when presented with open spot-up opportunities. He tends to jump well forward at times on his hop, and will pass up good looks at times, not quite looking as confident in his stroke as you might hope.
Collins saw a decent amount of touches with his back to the basket at Gonzaga, and was highly effective thanks to his overwhelming size advantage, as well as his strong footwork and touch around the basket. With that said, there are question marks about how this part of his game will translate to the NBA level, as he lacks a degree of physicality to his game, not being the most contact-loving big man in the world, especially in traffic. Collins' average length can be an issue at times in general as a finisher around the basket, and he's a lot more explosive loading up off two feet than he is from a stand-still.
Another question mark surrounding Collins' transition to the NBA revolves around his passing ability and seemingly just-decent feel for the game. He does not appear to have great court vision or playmaking instincts, ranking as one of the worst passers in our Top-100 statistically. He's not really a guy you want making decisions with the ball, which can be somewhat of an issue in today's NBA operating at the power forward position, where he'll be asked to read defenses in closeout situations, out of short rolls, and in dribble-handoffs.
Defensively, Collins has quite a few things to offer, and at the same time, plenty to continue to improve on as well. He demonstrated impressive instincts and timing as a shot-blocker as a freshman, rejecting four shots per-40 minutes, one of the highest figures in our Top-100. He covers ground seamlessly rotating towards the ball, has a quick twitch getting off the ground, and an advanced understanding of verticality that will serve him well moving towards the NBA.
Collins also shows potential defending on the perimeter, particularly on the pick and roll. He is extremely mobile, capable of sitting down in a stance, sliding his feet and covering ground impressively. He doesn't always have ideal length to finish the job with a strong contest, but offers nice versatility regardless with his ability to switch onto smaller players.
Collins was a prolific rebounder at the college level, averaging 13.4 boards per-40 minutes, the sixth best rate in our Top-100. He does a great job of boxing out opponents as shots go up on the rim, and is quick to pursue loose balls with soft hands and solid instincts.
With that said, there are some question marks about Collins' overall physicality and toughness defensively, and whether that, combined with his average length, will hamper him from translating his impressive rebounding and shot-blocking prowess to the NBA ranks. He gets buried underneath the basket frequently by stronger and more experienced big men, and is easy to move around in post-up situations. He lacks some disciple defensively, biting on pump-fakes naively and being very foul prone (6.1 per-40, 3rd highest in our Top-100), and older players carved him up on quite a few occasions in WCC action.
Collins' overall awareness can be a bit questionable at times, as he tends to lose focus easily, and can be very reactive to mistakes, getting down on himself somewhat easily. He played very sped up at times as a freshman, being somewhat mistake prone, which was masked to a degree playing behind Karnowski. NBA teams will have to evaluate how much of this is due to his extreme youth and lack of experience, and how much of that will go away with age.
Any team drafting Collins will likely need to be patient early on in his career, as there is a great deal of raw talent that can be harnessed on both ends of the floor, but its difficult to pinpoint one area he can hang his hat on immediately while he gets his feet wet. Nevertheless, athletic 7-footers with skill don't grow on trees, and Collins' productivity as a freshman and outstanding performance in the NCAA Final Four should ease many of the concerns about his lack of polish and earn him a spot in the NBA Draft's Green Room.
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