Collins hopes for hands-on lessons from Millsap with Hawks
ATLANTA (AP) John Collins has used Hawks star Paul Millsap’s versatile game as a model for the player he hopes to become with Atlanta.
The big question for the Hawks: Will Collins have the opportunity to take hands-on lessons from Millsap, a free agent?
Should Millsap sign with another team, a Hawks roster that became younger with last week’s trade of center Dwight Howard will become even more reliant on its nucleus of 25-and-younger players.
Collins, only 19, was Atlanta’s first-round pick in last week’s NBA draft. He immediately became a key member of the young core led by point guard Dennis Schroder and forwards Taurean Prince and Tim Hardaway Jr.
”I love it,” Collins said Monday at a news conference. ”… It’s cool they have some younger guys on the team I can bond with a little bit. Obviously you get that chance to grow and the chemistry can skyrocket.”
Schroder and Prince, who won a starting job late last season, are only 23. Hardaway, a free agent, is 25. Forward DeAndre Bembry, 22, and free agent forward Mike Muscala, 25, also could be part of Atlanta’s rotation next season.
Collins, the 6-foot-10 power forward from Wake Forest, could immediately earn a starting role, either as Millsap’s replacement or partner on the front line.
Collins said he marvels at the way Millsap, a four-time All-Star, contributes in different ways.
”It’s that versatility,” Collins said. ”You look at Paul and he’s a great defender and can shoot the 3. His post-up game is there. He makes plays and can push the ball. You could see in the playoff games he was really close to triple-doubles most of the games. It’s crazy for a guy like him who I would call a quiet killer. You’re going to see it at the end of the game on the stat sheet. Just being as versatile as possible, using all his gifts.”
Those are all reasons it may be difficult for the Hawks to re-sign Millsap.
Collins was joined Monday by two second-round picks, Oregon guard Tyler Dorsey and center Alpha Kaba of France. The three will play on the Hawks’ summer league team in Las Vegas.
Dorsey, who described himself as ”a gym rat for sure,” can’t wait for the summer league. He was eager to shed the red bow tie he wore with his white shirt and black suit so he could find a practice court.
”I’m a worker,” Dorsey said. ”It’s hard for me to take a day off. If I take a day off I get paranoid, just feeling like I need to work because somebody might be out there working. I need to get in the gym and work on my game. I’m just addicted to the grind.”
The draft class is the first for new general manager Travis Schlenk, who was hired from Golden State on May 25.
”When we started out this process, one of the things we said we were going to look for were high-character individuals and we feel like we hit a home run,” Schlenk said.
Schlenk replaced Wes Wilcox, who resigned as part of the restructuring of the team’s front office.
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer, who resigned as president of basketball operations after the season, sat in the audience during the news conference and posed for photos with the draft picks and Schlenk. Budenholzer, who indicated the day belonged to the draft picks, declined an interview request.
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