Atlanta Hawks: What Nate McMillan projects for Jalen Johnson

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Hawks have one of the deepest rosters in the NBA for the upcoming season. One of the players who add depth is the roster is the Hawks’ first-round pick of the 2021 NBA draft, Jalen Johnson, who was taken with the 20th pick.

Johnson, in the eyes of head coach Nate McMillan, ticks all the boxes that he could want in a rookie and the next task is to develop him as the season goes on. This is a delicate balance for a coach of a win-now team. He needs to develop Johnson without impacting the rest of the rotation.

McMillan has shown that he can do this. He started developing last season’s first-round pick Onyeka Okongwu from the moment that he took over. As a result, Okongwu was a really important member of the Howks’ playoff rotation last season.

The Atlanta Hawks have high hopes for Jalen Johnson

What McMillan wants to see out of Johnson is good decision-making. While this goal seems a little small for the rookie when it is put into context with the rest of McMillan’s comments, it makes a lot more sense.

McMillan would be happy for the rookie to take the ball off the backboard and push it down the court. This is where Johnson is at his best on the basketball court at the moment. His ability to create off the dribble in transition at 6’9″ is going to see him have a good career.

Johnson has already started to work hard, despite the fact that training camp is yet to get underway. He was considered one of the best players in the recently concluded summer camp, making the All Summer League Fist team.

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The future is bright for the Hawks and Johnson. They will develop him into a player that will play valuable minutes towards the back end of the season and into the playoffs.