Atlanta Hawks: Jalen Johnson may struggle to get regular minutes

Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Hawks have an embarrassment of riches in the forward positions at the moment. This might mean that their first-round draft pick, Jalen Johnson, could struggle to get regular court time despite the incredible display he is putting on in summer league action.

The Hawks starting forwards are a lock when they are healthy. The newly minted $125 million man, John Collins, is the starting power forward, the Hawks would not have shelled out that much money for him to move to the bench.

When he is healthy again there is very little doubt that De’Andre Hunter will be the starting small forward. The third-year man was the second-best player on the Hawks squad prior to his knee injury which kept him out for the majority of last season. He is also the Hawks’ best one-on-one defender, taking the toughest assignments most nights when he is on the court.

The Atlanta Hawks’ bench strength may make it difficult for Jalen Johnson to break in.

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The Hawks have a very strong bench unit. It was one of the best in the league last season and with the addition of Gorgui Dieng and Delon Wright, it has been strengthened. This is going to be crucial in the coming season but makes it hard for Johnson to break in.

Danilo Gallinari is another player earning big money who was one of the best producers for the Hawks especially after coach Nate McMillan put his structures and systems in place. Depending on how the chemistry of the team works out there is a potential that the Hawks may look to move on from his large contract during the season.

However, Johnson will still be competing for minutes with Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish, and Solomon Hill.  All of these players have their positive sides which benefit the team and their rotation.

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One thing is certain, coach McMillan values developing rookies and Johnson has an incredible ceiling. He will most probably spend some time in the G-League but as a rule, McMillan will try and chisel out court time to see what the rookie can do.  Barring injury or trade, this may be the best that Johnson can hope for this season.