For the past three years, a group of Trail Blazers have formed an unofficial club that lifts weights immediately after home games.
And this year, with the encouragement of some veterans like Maurice Harkless and Ed Davis, there is a new member: rookie Zach Collins.
“I make Zach go,’’ Harkless said with a chuckle.
Added Davis: “Every day I’m in there, I see him in there. Kid is smart.’’
The post-game lifts are another layer to the team’s culture of hard work and togetherness, and in the case of Collins, it could be one of the more subtle developments to the season.
Collins, the No. 10 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, is skilled and savvy, but at age 19 (he turns 20 on Nov. 19) he is at times physically outmatched by veterans.
Whether he is able to add muscle and gain strength figures to play a part in how quickly he makes an impact.
“For him, if I were in his shoes, I would just live in the weight room,’’ Davis said. “I think he understands that.’’
Collins is listed at 7-feet and 235 pounds. He said he has already put on “a couple” pounds of muscle since he has joined the Blazers, and he says he has embraced the weight room culture, even if he entered somewhat curiously.
It was after a preseason home game in which he didn’t play, and Collins had thoughts of getting in a workout. He peeked inside the weight room, which is down the hall from the Blazers’ locker room, and was taken aback.
“There were a bunch of guys in there,’’ Collins said. “Post game at home … it’s what they do, I guess. So I started going, and I’m happy to be a part of it.’’
The core group includes Davis, Al-Farouq Aminu, Pat Connaughton, Meyers Leonard and Harkless.
They usually lift for 15 to 30 minutes, sometimes emphasizing core, sometimes upper body, sometimes lower body.
“You do it just to stay right,’’ Davis said.
Added Harkless: “It feels good. It’s like putting in work, and we all like to work.’’
Collins said he is already seeing progress in the mirror and on the court.
“In practices, I’m not getting pushed around as much,’’ Collins said. “So it’s getting there.’’
Harkless, whose locker is next to Collins, and Davis, who often goes against him in practices, are both keeping an eye on his progress and making sure he remains diligent.
“For him, that’s like his next step,’’ Davis said. “Once he gets more strength and is able to hold his own, he’s going to be a problem.’’
Collins has appeared in two of the Blazers’ seven games and has played 15 minutes this season, both Harkless and CJ McCollum said he continues to have a good attitude and proper perspective.
“I’ve gotta get stronger,’’ Collins said. “And once I get stronger I feel like everything is going to get a lot easier for me. So I’m trying to get in a routine and not run away from the weight room. If I keep doing that, things are going to come quicker.’'
Today's Blazers' links:
How and where to watch tonight's Blazers-Jazz game.
NBC Sports Northwest's Dwight Jaynes says the Blazers need to work more for open shots.
The Blazers' Casey Holdahl writes that Noah Vonleh is cleared to return tonight versus Utah.
Some Utah Jazz notes, including the friendship between Lillard and Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell.