Atlanta Hawks: Does Jalen Johnson solve the Onyeka Okongwu injury issue?

Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Hawks held their nerve in the NBA draft. They waited until their allotted pick, hoping that they would be able to select a player who suited their needs. Thankfully, for the Hawks, Jalen Johnson was still on the board, a situation that the Hawks quickly rectified.

Johnson is a 6’9″ combination forward who has a beautiful transition game. He has the ability to run the floor to be an option for the ballhandler but he can also be the ball-handler with a tremendous ability to pass the ball to the right option on the break.

While he has shown to not have the same impact in the half-court offense due to his streaky shooting, Johnson will benefit from the offensive structures which are employed by Nate McMillan. Defensively he switches on and off, but he will be playing with seasoned veterans who will not let the rookie take plays off.

The Atlanta Hawks may have solved the rotation issue caused by the Onyeka Okongwu injury.

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Just a few days ago the Hawks lost Onyeka Okongwu for up to six months after he had surgery on his shoulder to repair his torn laburnum. This was a huge blow for the franchise considering that they may lose another big, John Collins, to free agency.

So far the Hawks have made all the right moves there. They made sure to extend him a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent. Now teams are going to have to try and price Collins out of the Hawks range to keep him meaning that he is going to be overpaid if it gets to that point.

This could have left the Hawks’ big men stocks dangerously depleted for the time that Okongwu rehabilitated his surgically repaired shoulder. Now, instead of having to go out and compete for the services of a big man, trying to sign a cheap replacement for the sophomore, the Hawks can see what Johnson can bring to the table.

It is going to be a baptism of fire should the Hawks use him for more than ten minutes per game. The thing about fire though is that if you come out the other side of it, you are stronger for the process.

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If Johnson can play a reserve big man role for the Hawks then they begin to set themselves up for another strong playoff run. If not, they can find another big who fits their needs, signing them to a deal until Okongwu returns.