The Chicago Bulls have a glaring hole at the power forward position, in large part due to the injury of Patrick Williams, who went down just five games into the season.
As such, it should be of interest to the Bulls that Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins has been made available in trade talks. According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, the Hawks are looking for a young player and a first-round pick, both of which the Bulls have to offer.
What Does John Collins provide?
The athletic big man is one of the the most efficient big man scorers in the NBA, converting shots at the enormously high rate of 53.6% from the field overall, and 41.4% from behind the three-point line. According to Basketball-Reference, Collins is sporting a TS of 62.9%, over seven percentage points higher than league average.
The big man should have been an obvious fit with All-Star Trae Young in Atlanta, but the two never seemed to fully mesh. The club is 22-25 and ranks 12th in the Eastern Conference, and are projected to finish third in the Southeast Division, per FanDuel Sportsbook.
The Hawks re-signed Collins to a five-year deal worth $125 million last summer, but failed to lean into his scoring prowess, unquestionably his biggest skill.
In Chicago, Collins would slide into the power forward position and have four playmakers alongside him, all of whom are unselfish and will get him the ball on the fly. Chicago’s lineup of Nikola Vucevic, Collins, DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball could become the best offensive starting unit in the entire NBA, especially if both LaVine and DeRozan are willing to sacrifice a few shots to get Collins a healthy diet of attempts.
Given that both DeRozan and LaVine have entirely bought into winning this season, such an ask shouldn’t be unrealistic. Collins not only is a tremendous lob threat, but a rock solid long-range shooter, meaning the Bulls will have plenty of space to operate with when he’s on the court. Both Collins and Vucevic can draw out their big defenders, allowing LaVine and DeRozan to get free runs to the the basket.
Defensively, Collins has improved, but he isn’t necessarily a finished product. He does better playing off an elite defensive big, of which the Bulls have none, so there will be times when he and Vucevic could find themselves in trouble.
Fortunately, with Javonte Green now back, and the return of Ball and Alex Caruso in coming months, that would help create some balance.
Atlanta’s request of a young player and a pick would start with Patrick Williams and the Portland pick that came over in the Lauri Markkanen trade. However, the Bulls will need to attach both Derrick Jones Jr and Troy Brown Jr to make the salaries work, and this is where things get complicated.
The Hawks simply can’t take on three players for one. In fact, out of any team in the league, they’re most desperate to do the exact opposite as they have too many mouths to feed on their roster as it is.
Therefore, the Bulls would be reliant upon Atlanta making an initial consolidation trade before moving off of Collins, simply to clear the necessary roster spots.
Another hiccup could the fact that teams can outbid the Bulls for Collins, offering picks that are less protected than the Portland selection and healthy young players, which does not describe Williams as of right now.
Acquiring Collins won’t be easy, and could be potentially costly, especially if the Hawks also ask for Coby White in return, so Bulls management will have to be in the same page before exploring this route. The injuries to Ball and Caruso makes it unlikely for White to get moved, but if a deal presents itself, like this, where the Bulls increase their talent level substantially, it’s worth a few meetings at the very least.