The 2020-21 NBA season is going to be different, no doubt about that.
With professional and college sports doing the best they can during a global pandemic, and as the NBA embarks on its journey through playing games with zero or limited fans, a typical Trail Blazers Media Day is no longer a thing this year.
Instead, it's Media Week.
Wednesday, after Trail Blazers big man Zach Collins finished his individual workout and went through his normal weight lifting session, Collins spoke with the local media.
And even though it was through a Zoom conference call, it was apparent that Collins is ready for this season to get underway, even though he won’t be healthy enough to return until mid-to-late Jan.
Collins explained that his number one goal this season is to not have to endure any more injuries.
But just because this season is going to be and has already been so different, that doesn’t mean Collins is expecting his role to be.
Before suffering a shoulder injury that required surgery last season just three games into the year, Collins was prepared to have a big season at the Blazers starting four.
While Collins continues to rehab his latest ankle injury, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said Tuesday that the frontcourt starters would most likely consist of Derrick Jones Jr., Robert Covington, and Jusuf Nurkic to start the season.
Whether Collins is starting or coming off the bench he goes back to always being prepared when his number is called.
In eleven total games played last season before suffering a left ankle injury during the NBA restart, Collins held averages of 7.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.5 assists.
Now as the 23-year-old enters a contract year, he doesn’t have any reason to believe that he won’t be slotted at the four once again this season.
“They haven’t given me any signals or told me that my role is going to be different and things like that, so I think I’m going to be in the same spot I was in.”
Collins emphasized that it’s up to how he continues to rehab and prepare himself, saying, “It’s going to be on me, obviously, to come back and be ready to go when I’m ready.”
And what about how he fits in with the new guys?
In Collins’ handful of interactions so far with Covington, Jones Jr. and Harry Giles, he is looking forward to getting out on the court with the defensive-minded players.
Collins is also eager to learn from the new additions.
“I’m really looking forward to actually learning from them,” Collins explained. “And seeing what I can pick their brain about to where I can be better on the floor and once we can get out there, I think it’ll be a good two-way punch. I mean, be able to guard guys on the perimeter and if they get beat, they’re forcing them into me and Nurk.”
But this is what Collins is extremely pumped about when thinking about playing alongside Covington and/or Jones:
The Trail Blazers frontcourt depth will be a force to be reckoned with once Collins is back from his ankle injury. And depending on matchups the Trail Blazers will be able to play small-ball or go with a really big lineup with Collins at the four and Covington at the three and Nurkic or Enes Kanter at the five.
Just think about that for a second. Houston started Covington at center for a handful of games last season and he could potentially see time at small forward with the Blazers.
That lineup would be different.
And most likely different in a really good way.