Portland Trail Blazers: Zach Collins discusses what part of his game he’s most excited to display

Zach Collins, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Lizzy Barrett/Getty Images)
Zach Collins, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Lizzy Barrett/Getty Images) /
Portland Trail Blazers
Zach Collins, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Lizzy Barrett/Getty Images) /

Portland Trail Blazers big Zach Collins took to a 20-minute interview session, where he discussed what aspect of his game he’s most excited to show, off-the-court lessons and strength development.

Zach Collins’ wiry, 232-pound frame held up over the past two springs as he battled for supremacy in the paint against the likes of Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis and Steven Adams.

On Monday’s episode of Blazers Courtside with Jordan Kemp and Michael Holton, the Portland Trail Blazers big discussed his focus on bulking up for said matchups, off-the-court lessons learned after his shoulder injury, and which part of his development he was most excited to see play out in 2019-20.

A dislocated shoulder on Oct. 27 left Collins without the opportunity to show off the time he put in. Instead of box-outs and flashes to the rim, we’ve only been able to see bow ties and flannel shirts.

In the brief three-game stretch that we did see, the work was in some ways evident. Collins surpassed his career-high in assists just two games in, and paired a 36.8 three-point rate with an impressive 42.9 percentage from deep.

Collins alluded to some of that, in finding ways to attack defenses when they overpursued Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, when asked about what aspect of his game he was most ready to show.

"“I definitely think playing on the block, playing one-on-one it improved a lot. I was real excited to see that, and I was really just more excited to make plays, not necessarily scoring, but being more effective in those pick-and-roll situations like you brought up earlier.Guys getting trapped and me catching the ball at the elbow with me making a play. I think I got better at that over the summer and I was excited to show that.”"

For Blazers fans, this is inspiring. Chances are, we remember the baptism-by-fire Blazers role players had in the Pelicans series, in trying to operate with all the free real estate after Lillard traps.

Collins also discussed not second-guessing himself on those decisions out of the pick-and-roll. He likely gave himself no reason to during the little time we seen him this season, as all but one of his recipients hit on north of 50 percent shooting off his passes, 12-of-24 in total. As for his own scoring, he gave us brief glimpses of his low-block game, ending with plays like this.

Because the Blazers have been so injury-ravaged this year, Collins and frontcourt mate Jusuf Nurkić have had to get creative about trying to better himself from the sidelines. Collins said he took to watching Hassan Whiteside and Carmelo Anthony’s play as a model for what he hoped to become as a two-way big.

"“Hassan being the only big out there presents a lot of challenges for him, because he has to be the guy who rebounds, blocks and finishes at the rim and makes those plays out of the pick-and-roll. So, just seeing how handled that was big for me.I think (Carmelo) has been a great guy to watch because he’s so smart and he sees a lot of things. Just when he comes into the huddle, he’ll say something that’s going on, and you’ll think you see it. But then the huddle’s over and they go out, and the play that happens, you kind of see how he got there with the flow of the game.”"

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The full 22-minute Q&A is available on the Portland Trail Blazers’ YouTube channel. There, Collins goes into extensive detail about his ambitious eating habits at the University of Gonzaga, how banging with bulkier players took time to get used to, and the need to get stronger, among other topics. It’s well worth the listen, and you can find it here.