Trail Blazers

Zach Collins fights off injury-prone label with lessons learned along the way

Trail Blazers

Injuries -- they happen.

They suck and when they happen more often than expected, it can be so frustrating for the player and for the fanbase wanting to cheer on said player.

But learning from injuries can be a blessing in disguise.

A late Dec. start date for the upcoming NBA season means Trail Blazers center Zach Collins won’t see the floor until at least a month into the 2020-21 season.

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Despite wishing that the season was going to tip-off a month later, Collins is feeling good about his rehab process.

The Trail Blazers big man hasn’t had any setbacks and is right on schedule with his current rehab process after having surgery on his left ankle following the NBA restart in late Aug.

It’s a four to six month process and I just hit the three-month mark yesterday.

Trail Blazers big man Zach Collins

Collins also mentioned during Wednesday's Zoom call with the local media that his doctor is really pleased with how his ankle is healing and he should see game action in mid to late Jan.

 

“I’m going to have to come in and make sure I fit in as seamlessly as possible,” Collins said after mentioning the added frontcourt depth.   

But this is nothing new for Collins.

It was on Oct. 27, just three games into the 2019-20 season, when Collins dislocated his shoulder while going up for a rebound against the Dallas Mavericks. 

week later, he underwent shoulder surgery and his chances of returning before the season ended were in question. 

But constant rehab had Collins eyeing a possible return prior to playoffs and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. 

With the virus shutting down the NBA season, players were not able to use team facilities or practice with other players for weeks, but Collins stayed with it and was still able to make his return during the restart in Orlando.

After playing in eight seeding games, Collins suffered his latest ankle injury in the Trail Blazers play-in game against Memphis.

After yet another serious injury, it was easy for many to jump to conclusions about Collins:

Can he stay healthy?

For those who wonder if Collins is injury-prone, that hasn't been an issue during his young basketball career.

“No, not really,” Collins said to ever going through a stretch of serious injuries like this.

 

Growing up, Collins broke his foot in middle school, but the timing worked out.

“That was towards the end of club season, so I didn’t miss any basketball. I didn’t miss any games. Besides that I didn’t have any [serious injuries],” Collins said.

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The Blazers 7-footer also mentioned how he broke his finger during his sophomore year of high school, but again, it wasn’t during basketball season.

I was good with timing with those injuries and obviously with these ones it’s the worst timing in the world.

Zach Collins

It was a difficult year of injuries and ups and downs for Collins last season, who was slated to start at power forward before the season began.

But now after enduring two long rehabs, Collins is thankful and has learned a lot of dos and don’ts with how to take care of his body.

It makes you appreciate being healthy.

“When you are healthy you just really realize how much you take that for granted and for me, it makes me want to continue to have better habits.”

Those better habits don’t just begin when the season begins or when he’s preparing the night before a game; it’s more of an all year process.

Or really, it's more of a life change for Collins.

“Obviously, I can’t really control injuries, but I can control how I prepare my body day in and day out.”

Collins continued, “as far as going through injuries you can’t control them, but you can put yourself in a better position if you have those good habits and I think that’s what I came away with.”   

As he continues to go through his individual workouts and continues his rehab during training camp, Collins’ number one goal for this season shouldn’t surprise anyone:

 

He wants to stay on the floor.

Yes, staying healthy is the No.1 priority for Collins this year and that would be the goal even if it wasn't a contract year for the 23-year-old.

Regardless if it was a contract year, I know it’s a big year for myself. I know that if I can have a year of health that I can do really big things and I can help this team and we can go win a championship and that would’ve been my mindset regardless of the contact.

Zach Collins

Staying healthy and bringing a championship to Portland are definitely two goals all of Rip City can get behind.