The Atlanta Hawks have had a really bad run of things recently. They went through an injury crisis very similar to last season. They had to start Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot who started looking very much at home with the Hawks, despite being the 15th man on the roster.
As that crisis was starting to abate they then started going through the next crisis. Covid-19 decimated the ranks of the Hawks. But true to the spirit of competition the Hawks bought up their G League assignees and then signed a multitude of 10-day hardship contracts. They did not miss a game, except for the Cleveland Cavaliers game where their opposition could not field a team.
Now the Hawks are going to get Sharife Cooper, Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Huerter, Luwawu-Cabarrot, Onyeka Okongwu, and Delon Wright out of protocols. They lose their coach, Nate McMillan to the health and safety protocols and possibly Cam Reddish to an ankle sprain but the Hawks seem to gain on the swings and lose on the roundabouts.
What are some of the benefits for the Atlanta Hawks of their players returning?
The first benefit that the Hawks will have is depth. Over the period where the Hawks were down to a threadbare roster, there were a number of games where the starters played over 40 minutes per contest. This adds a level of fatigue and heightens the risk of injury, not to mention that it is hard to battle deep into the last period where their legs are not fresh.
They also get the benefit of defense. Clint Capela has battled manfully with very little help. He was the only NBA-caliber big man available against the Cavaliers. They had three players listed as 7’0′ on their starting unit. He responded with 23 rebounds and was the premier big man on the night.
The return of Okongwu is the key here. Due to him having a shoulder operation in the offseason he missed the start of the season. He returned when Capela went out through the health and safety protocols. So hopefully, the Hawks will see their preferred center rotation in a game for the first time season.
The third benefit they get is that of experience, which is a huge factor in this league. Getting Gallinari back the game after Lou Williams showed how beneficial it is to have another experienced veteran back is huge. Together with Huerter and Wright, this is going to give the Hawks some impetus as they head over to the West to continue the longest road trip of their season.