Atlanta Hawks Shocker: John Collins Suspended for 25 Games

Atlanta Hawks, John Collins (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks, John Collins (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

News has just broken that Atlanta Hawks star forward John Collins has suspended for 25 games due to a violation of the NBA’s anti-drug policy. The news is a devastating blow to the team’s playoff hopes.

Devastating news recently broke of the 25 game suspension to Atlanta Hawks big man John Collins. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN was the first to report the news, with a patented Twitter “Woj-Bomb.”

The Atlanta Hawks will sorely miss John Collins who poured in 19.5 points and yanked down 9.8 rebounds per game last season. So far this season he has posted averages of 17 points and 8.8 rebounds per night.

Collins showed major expansion of his game making a career-high 5/8 shots from three-point range recently against the Miami Heat. He nailed 7/13 shots from beyond the arch in the home and home series against division rival Miami and is making a career-best 47.4 percent from the land beyond.

The suspension for John Collins is related to a banned substance that releases Human Growth Hormone. Adrian Wojnarowski expanded his tweet to include the specifics.

John Collins apologized to his teammates and the Atlanta Hawks in a statement given to ESPN. Adrian Wojnarowski shared the statement with the world via Twitter.

Atlanta Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk has also released a statement about the John Collins suspension. He expressed his disappointment for the suspension but also offered his support for the young athletic forward, provided by Chris Kirchner of The Athletic. 

John Collins becomes the third player suspended for 25 games for banned performance-enhancing drugs this season. His appeal could take up to two weeks, leaving him eligible to play for the Atlanta Hawks in the interim, while a decision is rendered.

John Collins’ numbers will be nearly impossible to replace, particularly the rebounds. He has also emerged as the Atlanta Hawks’ best rim protector and only consistent shot-blocking threat.

The offseason free-agent acquisition of Jabari Parker now looms large. His Atlanta Hawks career is off to a very good start, as he’s scoring 13.8 points per game while shooting 55 percent from the field and 38 percent from beyond the arch.

Parker certainly has the ability to take up some of the scoring slack, but at 3.8 rebounds per game he won’t make up for Collins’ absence on the boards. Parker is likely to replace John in the starting lineup, but the Atlanta Hawks must be careful not to overload a player that has suffered from multiple major knee injuries in the past.

The question emerges as to who replaces Collins when he goes to the bench. Vince Carter who at 42 years old is the NBA’s oldest player, is likely to see his minutes increase as the primary backup power forward. Yet he and Parker can’t cover all 48 minutes of playing time at the position

The Atlanta Hawks can also go small by playing rookie De’Andre Hunter at power forward and sliding DeAndre’ Bembry or Kevin Huerter into the wing position. Huerter returning to form after missing the entire preseason will provide a major boost for the offense. Bembry will be asked to help make up for the rebounding deficit.

Should the Atlanta Hawks struggle to get rebounds, they have the option of playing big as well. The team could use rookie third-string center Bruno Fernando in place of Collins against larger teams, pairing him with centers Alex Len or Damian Jones.

Not helping matters for the Atlanta Hawks, is the fact that they are already missing point guard/ wing Evan Turner, wing Allen Crabbe and forward Chandler Parsons due to various ailments. All hands are needed to replace a talent like Collins.

The Atlanta Hawks could always bring in a free agent to help add depth, but the pickings are slim at this point. Retired NBA veteran Amaree Stoudemire, who many have compared John Collins to, still has a desire to return to the court. Former defensive player of the year Joakim Noah is seeking a home to continue his career as well.

The other option for the Atlanta Hawks would be making a trade for a big-time rebounder. Steven Adams of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Clint Capella of the Houston Rockets are the names that most frequently pop up in rumors.

The issue is both players are pricey making more than 20 million dollars per year. They also will not come cheap compensation wise.

Adams is by far the better fit, for an Atlanta Hawks that team that badly needs toughness, defense, and rebounding at the center position. Yet to obtain Adams, the team would probably have to say goodbye to shooter Kevin Huerter and a first-round pick.

Huerter is a high price to pay for a team that places a very high value on shooting and spacing. Trading a scorer like Kevin would hurt the team’s ability to replace the offense of John Collins.

Ultimately everyone must step up. Certainly Trae Young will attempt to shoulder more of the load. , he is only one man and teams will trap him all over the court even harder now. His young Hawks teammates have to make teams pay to foil the strategy and force teams to play the Hawks straight up.

John Collins is a great player and a great young man. He will certainly learn from this and be fine moving forward. The Atlanta Hawks front office and coaching staff are supporting Collins, fans of the team should too.

Yet the fact is, John Collins being suspended for 25 games is a devastating blow the team’s playoff hopes. All one has to do is look at the teams 5-10 record without him last season, to understand his importance to the team’s success.

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The team and fans will get their first look at life without John Collins against the San Antonio Spurs. John is expected to miss the contest against San Antonio before he officially appeals his suspension.

Unfortunately the Atlanta Hawks hopes of making the playoffs this season, could soon drift into dreams of drafting Georgia Bulldogs star Anthony “Ant-Man” Edwards. While that definitely hurts in the interim, this could just be the blessing in disguise, which takes the Atlanta Hawks roster to championship-caliber level in the very near future.