The NBA announced on Tuesday that Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins has been suspended for 25 games due to a violation of the NBA/NBPA anti-drug policy. Collins reportedly tested positive for Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide-2, which is on the league’s banned substance list.
Collins says that he plans to appeal the suspension. He also issued a statement that said:
“First I want to apologize to my teammates, the Hawks organization, our fans, partners and community as a whole for this situation.
I understand the impact this matter has on what we are trying to achieve together this season, and I am incredibly frustrated and disappointed in myself for putting all of us in this position.”
Collins, 22, is in his third NBA season. The 6’9” big man has gone on to become a centerpiece for the rebuilding Hawks since being drafted with the 19th overall pick in the 2017 draft out of Wake Forest. Collins averaged 19.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2 assists per game across 61 games last season. He has averaged 17 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2 blocks across 5 games so far this season for Atlanta.
Collins’ statement continued, “I have always been incredibly careful about what I put in my body, but I took a supplement, which, unbeknownst to me, had been contaminated with an illegal component.
I plan to appeal my suspension in arbitration so I can get back on the court as soon as possible and contribute to our 2019-20 campaign.”
Collins becomes the third player to be suspended for violating the anti-drug policy so far this season. Brooklyn Nets swingman Wilson Chandler was banned for 25 games back in August after testing positive for a different kind of growth hormone. Phoenix Suns second-year center Deandre Ayton got the same sentence after testing positive for a diuretic late last month.
Hawks’ Betting Odds
Collins’ lengthy absence will surely affect the Hawks’ chances of competing for a playoff spot. Many had Atlanta pegged as a much-improved team heading into the season, thanks in large part to the continued development of Collins and Trae Young, last year’s Rookie of the Year runner-up.
Without Collins, the Hawks may have a more difficult time making headway in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Atlanta is listed at +1400 to win the Southeast Division at BetOnline.ag, which gives them the third-best odds behind the Miami Heat (-275) and the Orlando Magic (+300). The Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards (+3300 a piece) are not considered to be serious threats.
The Hawks are actually tied with the Magic with the eighth-best odds of winning the Eastern Conference (+3300), even after the news of the Collins suspension.
With Collins sidelined, Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce figures to promote Jabari Parker into the starting lineup at power forward. Parker has been serving as Collins’ primary backup to begin the season. The former No. 2 overall pick has averaged 13.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in about 22 minutes per game off the bench thus far.
Collins missing could also lead to additional opportunities for fringe rotation players like Vince Carter and Bruno Fernando, while Alex Len figures to assume more of the offensive responsibilities. Collins is the Hawks’ second-leading scorer behind Young, who is averaging nearly 27 points per game. Rookies De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish may also garner more responsibility during Collins’ suspension.
Bad Break for Hawks
Hawks president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk said via statement that the organization is discouraged by the suspension. Schlenk said, “We hold ourselves and each of our players to a high standard, and we are committed to supporting John as he learns from this setback and continues to grow as a player and a person. Head coach Lloyd Pierce and I have both talked to him, and we believe that he is truly remorseful for his actions. We will provide John with support on and off the court while we look forward to his return to the team.”
Collins will begin serving his suspension with Tuesday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs. The suspension is without pay, which means Collins will lose about $610,000 of his $2.7 million salary while he is sidelined.
The NBA’s wide-ranging anti-drug program includes random tests for marijuana, performance-enhancing drugs and drugs of abuse. The 25-game suspension Collins received is the penalty for a first-time offender. Former Washington Wizards guard Jodie Meeks tested positive for the same banned substance back in 2018.