Athletic 7-footers like Zach Collins are rare. The 19-year-old Gonzaga product has continued to rise up draft boards this offseason despite not starting a single game in his collegiate career. Given the raw skills Collins possesses, both physical and intellectual, that ascension has landed him consideration as a lottery pick.

Pairing Collins with Nikola Jokic would give the Nuggets two athletic big men with playmaking capability. Although he only played 17.2 minutes per game, his statistics expanded to a full-game basis prove his potential. Per-40 minutes, Collins averaged 23.2 points, 13.6 rebounds and 4.1 blocks.

In Gonzaga’s Final Four matchup with South Carolina, Collins logged 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks in just 23 minutes of action. More importantly, he showed NBA scouts that his relative lack of experience does not limit his production.

At 7-feet, 230 pounds, Collins still has room to fill out his frame. A matchup Collins can win against many NBA big men, though, is agility. Using shiftiness in the post, Collins converted 70 percent of his attempts at the rim. Collins has also flashed as a very effective outside shooter, converting 10 of his 21 3-point attempts at Gonzaga. Although the sample size is less than desirable, his willingness to take and ability to make these shots cannot be overlooked.

Collins’ connections to Denver have been well-documented throughout the pre-draft process. President of basketball operations Tim Connelly revealed that he is one of the prospects the Nuggets are targeting come Thursday night.

“He’s a heck of a prospect,” Connelly told Eric Goodman and Les Shapiro of Mile High Sports AM 1340 | FM 104.7. “I’m not sure that there’s another big in the world that has the skills than Nikola. [But, Collins is] a ball mover. He’s a guy who fell just short of the national championship and he’s a guy that’s going to hear his name called very early on Thursday night. We’re looking at a lot of good players, and he’s definitely one of them.”

It’s not just the physical ability that has Collins on so many NBA draft boards. Collins has long been touted for his work ethic and willingness to learn. Gonzaga head coach Mark Few shared his thoughts on these characteristics that make Collins so coachable.

“He’s a hard worker,” Few told Chris Dortch of “And he’s tough as nails. He’s got such a bright future because he just keeps getting better. He got better in the eight months or so he was with us. He’s coming on like leaps and bounds because he’s not afraid, he eats up coaching, and he plays really hard.”

Defensively, Collins figures to pair nicely with Jokic as a rim protector. Last year, the Nuggets ranked 27th in blocks per game and did not have a single player average more than one block per game. Collins has the ability to come in and immediately be a difference maker at the rim. His aforementioned agility also bodes well for perimeter defense and switching onto smaller players.

The Nuggets have plenty of options to consider before the NBA Draft commences on Thursday. Should they chose to go in the direction of a big man, Collins figures to be at the top of their list.