Zach Collins showed flashes of brilliance but injuries derailed his stay in Portland
The Blazers traded for Collins on draft night in 2017, giving up Harry Giles (who returned to the Blazers last season) and Justin Jackson for the 6’11” beast from Gonzaga. And they brought him along beautifully his first two years in the league.
Collins averaged 5.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3/4 of a block per game in just under 17 minutes per game in those first two seasons and by the start of the 2019-20 season had earned a spot in the starting lineup.
But a torn labrum would sideline him after just three games, and COVID shut the league down when he was ready to return in March. He returned to start eight games: seven at the conclusion of the regular season plus the playoff opener against the Lakers before suffering a stress fracture in his ankle.
One surgery led to another and multiple setbacks in his rehabilitation – including a second fracture He signed with the Spurs last August but has yet to appear in a game for them, although that time appears close.
Bringing Collins back might be more of an act of nostalgia than a sound basketball move, as the Blazers’ experience with big men with janky lower body parts – see Oden, Greg or Walton, Bill – is bordering on nightmarish. So maybe this is one move best reserved for fantasyland.