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2017 NBA DRAFT: Is Zach Collins a potential replacement for Andre Drummond?

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Collins is far from a stiff.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four Championship Game-Gonzaga vs North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

With forward Miles Bridges off the list for possible Pistons rookies for the 2017-18 season, I’ll try my best to next hit on a probable 2017 draft entrant. This time it’s going to be 7-footer Zach Collins out of Gonzaga. Zach has not hired an agent yet, but all signs point to him hiring an agent soon.

Zach played one season for Gonzaga at 17.2 minutes per game, playing behind (and sometimes beside) senior 7-foot starter Przemek Karnowski. Zach’s per game averages were healthy at 10 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks with rock solid shooting percentages. Here’s another small sample to highlight: he shot 10-of-21 from 3-point range. Do know this, though, Collins isn’t some surprise performer or anything, in fact he came to Gonzaga as a five-star recruit. Gonzaga doesn’t get many five-star guys — the last was Austin Daye in 2007. ....

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Moving on.

In most mock drafts Zach is slated to go in or around the mid-first round. For what it’s worth, an NBA writer, Jonathan Wasserman, has Zach at No. 11 to the Hornets, one spot in front of the Pistons.

At the time of this writing CBS Sports’ Howard Megdal did not have Zach Collins in the first round in their latest draft update. Oversight (Megdal’s colleague Gary Parrish has him at No. 13). You may be wondering who Megdal had going to Detroit at No. 12: Louisville combo guard Donovan Mitchell, that’s who. Haven’t seen Mitchell that high on a draft board yet. I’m either ignorant, or it’s just another oversight. It’s likely both. Parrish, meanwhile, has the Pistons passing on Collins to take Frank Ntilikina.

Back to Collins — he’s listed going to Sacramento at No. 10 in the latest Draft Express mock. All I’m trying to say is that this Zach Collins kid is supposed to be pretty good at basketball. Just don’t confuse him with that other tall crush of mine back in mid-March named John Collins.

Before highlighting a few clips of Collins, here’s what Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk wrote that also sums up much of my impression of the big man:

The 7-footer looks like a nearly complete center. He has nice touch near the basket and a solid stroke from mid-range and occasionally beyond the arc. Not always billed as the greatest athlete, Collins played like one, moving well to block shots and still get into rebounding position.

One slight issue perhaps; Collins is often listed as a power forward, but isn’t that meaningless in today’s position-less NBA? The thing that matters is if Collins is able to play next to Andre Drummond. At this point I’d say absolutely, especially if Collins shows the consistency as a threat from downtown. Problem is Detroit would have spent their last two first-round picks on the same position — a la the Detroit Lions with their wide receiver addiction back in the Matt Millen years. Above all else, what I’m intrigued by is Collins being a center in the league. Could he be like a Brook Lopez type center? A Marc Gasol (Marc drained over 100 triples this season after only 12 of them prior)?

Let’s see what you all think of Collins’ skill set and potential from these clips.

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Here from these couple of plays Collins shows his patient moves and a smooth stroke. Quick feet too. Really, we shouldn’t be too worried about his offense as it’s already pretty far along for a 19-year-old.

Did I mention his patient moves? Key in on the second play here — Collins is going against fellow freshman Tony Bradley, a widely thought of top-15 pick in the 2018 draft (if he doesn’t bolt for this year’s draft!)

Defensively, Collins loves to go for the swat, but had issues with foul trouble during his time in college. He’ll need some time to get coached up on body positioning and when to back off rather than go in for the difficult play. And a lot of his improvement will come through experience playing with the best — because remember he only played one season of college ball. In no time he’ll easily be the best defensive center on the team.

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I know some of you quite like Collins — but what are some the drawbacks of drafting him? Will he be able to play rotational level minutes his rookie season?