Zach Collins is having a career resurgence with the Spurs
We are nearing the end of the season, and the San Antonio Spurs are coming to a close on another rebuilding year. There have been brutal stretches and many losses, but there have been bright spots along the way. We knew this season was about evaluating our talent while likely aiming for a top draft pick. The silver linings have ranged from the usual suspects of Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, and Jeremy Sochan to newcomer Sandro Mamukelashvili.
Let me draw your attention to Zach Collins, who has also been a pleasant surprise. The 25-year-old Gonzaga product has reminded everyone why he was the former tenth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. We saw the flashes when he backed up defensive anchor Jakob Poeltl, but he's blown expectations out of the water since the trade deadline. Once Poeltl was sent back to Toronto for Khem Birch and draft compensation, many fans knew that Zach Collins would be our de facto starting center.
Since that deal, Collins has averaged 16.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 3.8 assists on a 58% True Shooting Percentage. His ability to consistently knock down shots from beyond the arc has also been impressive. He's hitting 39.5% of those looks on 4.2 attempts per game. That is huge for San Antonio, especially for the guards and wings that can't quite space the floor. Players like Tre Jones and Blake Wesley can attack the rim without worrying about an opposing big man waiting for them.
He's also cut back on the fouling, averaging 3.2 fouls per game. While he's not the level of defender Jakob Poeltl was for San Antonio, he still gives great effort and energy. There's also something to be said about his attitude but in a good way. Collins has some "nasty" to him that 2012 Pop would approve of, and he's always ready to back up his teammates and get under his opponent's skin. He's a guy that you love playing with and hate going against.
Where does this leave him going forward? Collins is an expiring contract next season if the Spurs guarantee his deal, which is almost a given. San Antonio should absolutely look to lock him down and extend him before he enters unrestricted Free Agency in 2024. The 25-year-old fits nearly any scenario the front office can imagine, whether that results in them drafting Victor Wembanyama or Scoot Henderson. As a floor-spacing big man, he can take the pressure off Victor to play center and give a guard like Scoot a great pick-and-roll partner who can offer him room to operate.
Another option is San Antonio signing another big to share the load with Collins at the center. A great choice would be someone like Naz Reid, a great energy guy who has recently become a fantastic three-point shooter. We often forget that Zach Collins came into the league as a power forward, so there are probably rotations where he can play next to Reid for stretches. The bottom line is that you get a lot of flexibility with a big man like him. Having one or two bigs that can space the court can finally push San Antonio into adopting a more modern offense.
In the worst case, if that fit isn't as ideal as it looks on paper, San Antonio could flip him next year since he is a valuable player any contending team might want. It's not my preferred choice, but it is an option without question. And I'm sure the hypothetical package in return would be additional draft compensation, which San Antonio could use to bolster their rebuilding roster.
Zach Collins is finally showing the NBA world that he's back and every bit the player we thought he could become when he came off the board in the lottery. He has a bright future in the league and an especially bright future with the San Antonio Spurs.