In speaking to the media on Wednesday, Coach Gregg Popovich said the 24-year-old power forward/center is "almost ready to go" after his offseason ankle surgery left his future uncertain. "He's cleared to play once he gets a rhythm, and if he gets a chance to play some 3-on-3 or 5-on-5. It's kind of difficult now, but he's almost ready to go," continued Popovich.
While no set timeline was given, I would suspect Collins is finally days or weeks away from seeing in-game action instead of months. That is unless he's hit by the COVID-19 health and safety protocols that have now hit 11 of the Spurs' 17 active players this season.
Collins has hardly had a chance to get in a real rhythm in the NBA, as he's been consistently hit by injuries throughout his career. When he's 100% though, he can help the Spurs with at least one crucial weakness.
The San Antonio Spurs are getting killed on the offensive glass
Heading into Friday's short-handed showdown in Philadelphia, the Spurs were sitting at 25th in the league at allowing offensive rebounds. This despite being a respectable 10th in defensive rebounds per game. The reason for the disparity? They're allowing more field goal attempts per game than all but three other teams.
Although he hasn't established himself as a big-time rebounder in his career, at 6-11, Collins should be able to clean up some of those extra possessions opponents are getting. At least, there's no reason he shouldn't on paper.
Only two Spurs are averaging over 6.5 rebounds per game this season, and one of them is the team's starting point guard, Dejounte Murray. Collins pulled down 6.3 boards per game in 2019-20 but his season was cut to just 11 games.
Zach's toughness inside will be crucial, and his size should help in both contesting shots and cleaning them up on opponents' misses.
I imagine Collins won't be asked to do much more than work hard and do the things big men are supposed to do in his first few games, and that might be all the Spurs need to succeed.