Is John Collins a Good Fit on the Sixers? Hawks Become Latest Suitor for Ben Simmons

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer

With exactly one month to go until the 2022 NBA Trade Deadline, things are really beginning to heat up in the Ben Simmons trade market.

Late last week, Marc Stein reported the Atlanta Hawks had become the latest suitor for Simmons. The Athletic's Shams Charania speculated in Monday's "Inside Pass" the Hawks could potentially offer John Collins as the centerpiece in a package to the Philadelphia 76ers for Simmons.

"The Hawks are an emerging potential landing spot for Simmons, whose Defensive Player of the Year-caliber play would surely elevate one of the league’s bottom five defenses. In scanning the Hawks’ roster, it’s obvious John Collins — who signed a five-year, $125 million deal in restricted free agency last offseason — and Cam Reddish are among the players who could acquiesce a package for Simmons. It’s unclear whether the Hawks are ready to put such a proposal on the table after making a run to the Eastern Conference finals a season ago.

Collins, however, has grown increasingly frustrated over his role in Atlanta, multiple sources have told The Athletic. His shot attempts per game and usage rate have decreased in each of the past three seasons — even as the athletic, energetic Collins has improved his offensive repertoire. The 6-foot-9 big man has challenged the Hawks locker room on multiple occasions to play team basketball and commit to one another this season. Oftentimes, Collins has felt his voice go unheard."

Collins, at 24 years old, is just entering his prime and could be an enticing player for the 76ers. He plays with a ton of energy, has insane athleticism and is a good scorer. He is averaging 17.5 points per game this season, and has proven over the past few years to be a solid outside shooter. Over the last three seasons, he is shooting 40.6 percent from beyond the arc, albeit on only 3.3 attempts per game.

Another area the Sixers need to improve that Collins could help with is rebounding. He has grabbed 8.4 rebounds per game for his career, and the Sixers desperately need to improve on the defensive glass. They are the worst rebounding team in basketball, and Collins could definitely help to improve the team in that area.

However, Collins is not a perfect fit into the Sixers' lineup. He would play great next to Joel Embiid as a guy who could be slotted into the dunker spot, where he could use his athleticism to catch alley-oops and grab a ton of rebounds. However, there is a fair amount of duplicity between Collins and Tobias Harris. If they played together, it would mean Harris sliding down to small forward. We have seen Harris struggle in the past against quicker players, and moving him to small forward would result in him getting punished on defense.

If Collins is not the centerpiece of a Simmons trade between the Sixers and Hawks, there is simply no traction between the two teams. The Hawks are not equipped with other high-end talent (assuming they will not want to part with All-Star Trae Young), and the Sixers are looking to receive a top-25 player in return for the disgruntled Simmons. Adding in another player like Cam Reddish might sweeten the pot, but it definitely should not be a difference maker.

General manager Daryl Morey's patience appears to be paying off as more teams begin to get desperate and start considering upping their offers for Simmons. The rumor mill will only continue to get louder and louder as the trade deadline is just one month away.

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