While it wouldn’t be accurate to state that Zach Collins, the 10th overall pick of the 2017 Draft who the Trail Blazers acquired via trade, has had a difficult start to his professional career, it certainly hasn’t been ideal either. After a right quad contusion sidelined the 7-0 rookie out of Gonzaga for all but the first two games of the Trail Blazers’ extended run at the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League, Collins missed the first day of training camp practice due to suffering a concussion during informal workouts on September 22.
“We were playing three-on-three on Friday, came over on help-side defense and just got hit with an elbow in my mouth, sustained a concussion,” said Collins. “I’ve been doing treatment and trying to do the protocol all weekend.”
That protocol includes a battery of tests that a player must pass before being cleared to return to the court. Once the player is “free of symptoms,” he must go through “increasing stages of exertion,” which includes exercises such as riding a stationary bike and non-contract team drills, without the return of symptoms. If a player is able to go through those progressions without issue, all that remains is a consultation with a neurologist, who then signs off on the player returning to the court.
According to Collins, he is on the brink of finishing the league-mandated protocol and expects to be ready to go in time for Wednesday’s morning practice.
“Unfortunately I didn’t finish every stage (of the concussion protocol) before practice this morning,” said Collins, “but I should be cleared by the doctor later today, so I’ll be able to go tomorrow.”
Missing the first day of training camp might not be good thing, but it’s also of little consequence, especially considering Collins, who averaged 10.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game during his only and only season at Gonzaga, has been working out with his new teammates in advance of the start of training camp at the Trail Blazers’ practice facility in Tualatin.
“We had a lot of guys here for like three weeks, so we got to get up and down, play pickup every day,” said Collins. “We’ve been going really hard, conditioning twice a week, lifting before every pickup and getting shots up after, working out twice a day. We’ve really been working as a team.”
Collins noted it was disappointing to watch from the bench, especially as a rookie, though he’s optimistic he’ll be able to make up for missing Tuesday’s practice by putting his best foot forward on Wednesday.
“You kind of feel like you want to be out there with them, you want to be on the same page as everybody, you don’t want to be behind,” said Collins. “But I watched everything, I learned a lot even when I wasn’t playing, so I don’t think I’ll be too far behind, but obviously you want to be there for the first day, especially as a rookie. You want to show guys you’re ready to work and you want to be a part of the team. The best I can do is go out tomorrow and show them I’m doing that.”