Hawks rookie Collins returns from injury

6:14 p.m Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017 Sports

Hawks rookie John Collins was available to play against the Pistons on Thursday night after a shoulder injury forced him to miss the past six games. 

Coach Mike Budenholzer said Collins would play off the bench and was restricted on how many minutes he can play. Collins suffered what the Hawks said was a sprain of the AC joint in his left shoulder during a game Nov. 30. 

“I think he is in a good place,” Budenholzer said before the game. “His conditioning, it’s hard to replicate playing five-on-five full-court basketball. But (we are) excited about him playing.” 

The Hawks selected Collins with the No. 19 overall pick in the draft, and he’s emerged as one of the top rookies in the league. On a per-minute basis, Collins is tied for first on the team in blocked shots and second in rebounds and blocks. Over 17 games Collins has averaged 11.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 23 minutes. 

The return of Collins will help the Hawks bolster their thin frontcourt. Starting center Dewayne Dedmon (leg) has missed the past seven games, and reserve forward Mike Muscala (ankle) has missed the past 18.