Atlanta Hawks: Nathan Knight making the most of his opportunity

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports /

Nathan Knight may not be an elite scorer like his days at William and Mary, but his impact for the Atlanta Hawks has been impressive in his rookie season. As the Hawks have dealt with injuries in the frontcourt, Knight has made the most of his opportunity by protecting the paint and dominating the glass.

As Clint Capela has been sidelined with a heel injury, the Hawks’ rotation has opened up new opportunities for guys like Knight. And how has he done? Terrific to say the least. The Hawks have been through a lot through this season as they are now riding an eight-game winning streak. Knight has not started in the frontcourt in Capela’s absence, but his numbers have increased to average around 15 minutes over the last three games.

Early in the season, Knight showed his versatility in just the Hawks’ second game of the season against the Memphis Grizzlies. He played on all levels of the floor and looked to be aggressive every time he had the ball. Despite the impressive 14 point performance, it did not allow Knight guaranteed minutes in the lineup. He would go three to four games before he would see the floor again. Although his minutes were limited, it did not shake his confidence when he checks into the game.

How the Atlanta Hawks are benefitting from Nathan Knight’s game

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As the Hawks are riding a winning streak, Knight has been an impressive force over their last two games. On Sunday night, against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Knight scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds. The impressive part of his performance was his ability to force second chance opportunities for the Hawks. That aspect of the game became huge as Atlanta converted with nearly every opportunity. The team missed the presence of Capela as a rebounding machine under the rim. But many cannot tell his presence is gone with how Knight has controlled the glass.

Looking into their next game against Houston, Knight kept the momentum rolling by dominating the Rockets’ defenders. On this occasion, he decided to show more of his skill set on offense. Knight did a great job of spacing the floor while also running the pick-and-roll game with Trae Young. The more Knight becomes active playing off the ball, the easier looks he tends to have. Knight once again was a huge part of Atlanta’s win. The hustle and activity have made him a fan favorite from the organization.

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The test for Nate McMillan is how can he continue to provide minutes for Knight once Capela returns. His energy off the bench will be needed for the Hawks in the midst of their playoff push. Although the rotation is very deep right now, there has to be an opportunity to add Knight in to further develop his game. The effort that Knight displays on the floor can certainly become an important piece for the Atlanta Hawks going forward.