Philadelphia 76ers: John Collins is a Philly kind of forward

When the Philadelphia 76ers turn to their twin towers look of Andre Drummond and Joel Embiid, a combination that has only appeared in three games so far this season, it’s safe to assume things are a special type of dire.

On paper, that doesn’t have to be the case, as Drummond is a pretty good big man playmaker and Embiid could easily play power forward in a pinch, but unless the Sixers find themselves against a team like the Orlando Magic who run a starting front court of center-sized players, playing the duo together is going to sacrifice something, be that pace, shooting, or defensive flexibility.

So why did the Sixers go to that look in the fourth quarter versus the Charlotte Hornets? Because of rebounding (obviously). As has been the case all season long, the Sixers were thoroughly outgunned by the Hornets on the boards and suffered through a horrible second quarter they were never able to overcome.

Are the Philadelphia 76ers hopeless? No. Are they a flawed team half-built to play around a 6-foot-10 point guard who is no longer with the team? Yes, yes they are. *sigh* let’s talk about John Collins.

John Collins would be a Philadelphia 76ers legend.

The Philadelphia 76ers, in all likelihood, are not trading Ben Simmons to the Atlanta Hawks in a package headlined by John Collins. The team reportedly wants to include Tobias Harris in said deal, which is the right decision if Collins is coming back, and Atlanta is trying to get off of money, not straddle their books with two new max contracts to go with Trae Young.

Is a package of Collins and Cam Reddish, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Delon Wright and Soloman Hill – yes, financially speaking, all of those players would need to be included – going to get a deal done for Simmons and Harris? Probably not but hey, when you want to include a player who is making four times as much as he should be according to FiveThirtyEight, the options are limited.

With that being said, Collins, by his own admission, isn’t particularly happy with his usage in Atlanta, and considering the team’s GM, Travis Schlenk, has been relatively forthright about his desire to move off of long-term contracts, there is a non-zero chance the player some call “The Baptist” could see his name cross Daryl Morey’s desk one way or another.

Even if, as per Adrian Wojnarowski, the Sixers don’t view Collins as a player worthy of being swapped out for Simmons one-for-one doesn’t mean he couldn’t still be an asset with the team. If anything, Collins would probably go down as the best power forward to ever line up next to Embiid, no offense to Dario Saric or Al Horford.

First, the numbers; Collins is a 24-year-old Wake Forrest product who measures in at 6-foot-9, 235 pounds. He can play either power forward or small-ball center, and is averaging 19 points and 8.8 rebounds over the past four seasons. Despite his size and “traditional power forward” frame, Collins is a good 3 point marksman who has drained 38.8 percent of his shots from beyond the arc over his career and has a true shooting percentage of 60.4, which isn’t like an all-time great average but is pretty good nonetheless.

Largely tasked with playing alongside either Clint Capela for roughly 60 percent of his minutes so far this season, Collins has developed into a pretty shore-handed catch-and-shooter from deep, where he’s attempting nearly every one of his 3s without taking a dribble and draining them at a 43.1 percent clip. Sure, he can take the rock to the net and score as a driver from time to time, but Collins has adapted to the modern requirements of being a quick trigger forward exceptionally well and has been rewarded for his efforts with a very nice five-year, $125 million contract; a contract FiveThirtyEight thinks is only slightly above market value.

Playing alongside Embiid, Collins would sort of split the difference between Matisse Thybulle and Tobias Harris’ roles offensively, all the while providing some much-needed effort on both the offensive and defensive boards.

But wait, that’s not all Collins could bring to the table. As a pick-and-roll roll man, Collins ranks in the 92nd percentile – the 10th best mark in the NBA – and could form a dynamic two-man game with Tyrese Maxey that the team doesn’t currently have, as Embiid and Andre Drummond are only average roll men statistically.

Do you know how Seth Curry and Embiid play almost all of their minutes together and have arguably the best two-man chemistry on the team? That could be Collins and Maxey, both with the starters and in a lethal two-man game.

Sidebar: I don’t know about you, but I sort of like the idea of running a Collins-Embiid pick-and-pop, too, as “The Process” is a dominant driver who could excel greatly from a few well-placed blocks.

When asked about comments suggesting that the Philadelphia 76ers weren’t built to Ben Simmons’ liking, Joel Embiid let it be known that he can pretty much play with anyone. Outside of a few outliers – I’m looking at you, Al Horford – that has largely proven to be true, though, to this point, he’s yet to play off of a traditional power forward outside of some run with Ersan Ilyasova and Dario Saric early in his career. Would it work? Would a Sixers lineup featuring Tyrese Maxey, Seth Curry, Tyrese Haliburton – let me dream – John Collins, and Joel Embiid actually work and elevate the Sixers back to the top of the Eastern Conference? We’ll probably never know, but after watching a horrible Wednesday night effort versus the Charlotte Hornets, such a lineup looks pretty darn appealing.