The Utah Jazz get back on track with a 123-108 win over the Washington Wizards to snap their three game losing skid – and first win in this current road trip. This game featured the return of the field goal efficiency of the squad with a 51.7% clip, which could be highlighted by the 72 points in the paint they had.
Forefront of the Jazz scoring in the interior was John Collins, posting a double-double of 22 points and 16 rebounds on an impressive 73.3% shooting from the field. As his deep ball faltered the past few games (1/12 in the last three contests), the change in shot diet was necessary – that proved to work effectively.
Data has shown that Collins going downhill by rolling to the basket and crashing the offensive glass is his most effective way of scoring. According to Synergy, as a roll man, he scores 1.34 points per possession (PPP) in 11.6% of his possessions. While his ability to clean up misses is also at an excellent rate of 1.47 PPP – contributing to the league-best team in second chance points.
These numbers definitely reflected against the Wizards, so let’s take a look how Collins did his damage and why the Jazz continue to tap into this button.
Firstly, we see where Collins is spaced on the floor. With Coach Hardy applying 5-out concepts in the offense of the Jazz, his role of being a pick-and-roll (PnR) partner for guards (or even with Olynyk and Markkanen) is optimal to maximize the shooting around the different spots.
In the half court, through the prowess of Collin Sexton to snake and probe ball screens, his job is simplified by diving hard to the paint.
It’s the same case when the Jazz flow into their transition or early offense. Here in this clip, Collins cuts to the rim to receive a pass from Kris Dunn and sets a quick drag screen for Keyonte George turned into a PnR en route to an easy jam. Each scenario is made possible because of the spacing, which Collins can capitalize by filling lanes and being a threat in the dunker spot.
Collins was also able to punish mismatches at the post. Tracking from the 46 games of the Jazz this season, he had 39 post-up situations, where Collins garnered 0.95 PPP on a 46.4% clip, per Synergy.
For this game, the first year Jazzman only had two attempts at the post, which he both scored in. What was evident in those sequences is the touch Collins has and the patience to back down the smaller defender. Obviously, the sample size is too small, but it’s worth keeping an eye if the Jazz would hunt it whenever the opposition switches the ball screen of a PnR or an instance where Collins initiates by filling the gaps in junk defenses.
Lastly, the effort displayed by Collins to clean up misses was exemplary versus the Wizards frontcourt. He tallied a total of seven offensive rebounds, five of them converted into putbacks. Zooming out to the whole season, the 2.1 offensive rebounds average of Collins is his highest since the 19-20 season. Just the awareness in positioning himself for possible scraps should continue to pop – in relation to the philosophy of the Jazz.
The counterpoint to all these discussed points regarding Collins is the defense aspect of it. Yes, it might be true that he doesn’t offer rim protection and focusing on offensive rebounding opens up the transition game for opponents. Well, the team went on a run with him at center, which only means he can be passable on that end. Using the on-off numbers of PBP Stats, the Markkanen-Collins pairing (being the lone bigs on the floor) is at 0.35 net rating in 412 minutes. While the lineup the Jazz rolled out of Markkanen-Olynyk-Collins is winning by a slim margin of 1.59 in 136 minutes together on the court.
But the snapshot in this performance of Collins should be a template where the Jazz can maximize the starting unit, especially in the big man room. It’s clear as day that Markkanen can be that big who can be a floor spacer, create his own shot, screener, driver, or whatever you want on offense. I think Collins as your screener/roller and post-up threat can provide even more variety to this Jazz offense.