Can John Collins Win Most Improved Next Season?
John Collins is one of the most undervalued big men in the NBA. He has continued to improve in virtually every statistical category since he was drafted 19th overall in the 2017 NBA draft. As the 19th pick, Collins has thoroughly outperformed at minimum, 11 of the 18 picks before him thus far in their short careers.
From year one to year two, the Atlanta Hawks’ forward improved in the following categories: 3PA, 3P%, eFG%, FT%, RPG, APG, and PPG (nearly doubling this category from 10.5 to 19.5 PPG). A solid argument could be made for John and how he deserved to be a major candidate for Most Improved Player in the 2018-2019 season. However, it is worth noting that similar to most individual awards, it is undeniably beneficial for the said candidate to be on a playoff contending team. That is not something the Hawks were last season only being able to collect a total of 29 wins for the entire year.
In fact, the last player to be named MIP off of a team with a losing record is Kevin Love with the 2010-2011 Minnesota Timberwolves. It is no secret among the league that to be considered for an individual award, the player in question must be on a playoff-caliber team and there are very few anomalies to suggest otherwise.
With the addition of draft picks DeAndre Hunter, Cam Reddish, and Bruno Fernando; Collins should be able to be even more productive as the Hawks will possess more talent moving forward. In the 2018-2019 season, Trae Young and John Collins were the lone focal points in the Hawk’s offense. This year, that (hopefully) will not be the case with their steadily improving players and handful of competent draft picks. Of course, Trae and Collins should still be the main focus, but more attention will have to be paid to the surrounding players as well.
In comparison to other Eastern Conference big men in the upcoming season, Collins fares quite well. According to the NBA's Player Impact Estimate or PIE, Collins is a better contributor than players like Marc Gasol and Myles Turner. He is not quite as productive as players like Joel Embiid and Nikola Vucevic, though.
At this point, many things would have to happen in order for Collins to be deemed the Most Improved Player. As aforementioned, if Atlanta had success last season he would have most likely been a major consideration for the award; perhaps even the winner. In order for Collins to be MIP this year, he’d certainly have to improve dramatically yet again. As far as individual awards go, Collins has a better chance this season to be an All-Star than win the MIP recognition. However, if Collins can improve his rim defense and be a bit more accurate from long range, it could still happen. Hopefully the third season is the charm for the young big man.