When the Atlanta Hawks recalled Jalen Johnson from the College Park Skyhawks when John Collins went down with injury prior to the All-Star break they barely played him. He was up in the NBA for insurance purposes but when he had been performing so well in the G League, it seemed an oversight not to play him.
Then, Collins went down with the same injury after coming back and also damaged his finger significantly which required him to keep it immobile. This meant Collins would be severely hampered by the injury and would be a liability to the Hawks if he took the court. The fact that he was willing to put his health on the line shows why he is so valued by the franchise.
The Hawks had to recall Johnson again as this time Danilo Gallinari, who had filled in admirably for Collins was in and out of the team with injury. This meant that Johnson got court time and he most certainly put it to good use.
The Atlanta Hawks saw a glimpse of their future with Jalen Johnson.
Johnson played his most significant minutes as a rookie against the Detroit Pistons and was one of the few shining lights in the loss. He had 11 points, seven rebounds, an assist, and a steal in 25 minutes of action. He then missed the Golden State Warriors game but had another solid outing against the Indiana Pacers.
The rookie played 17 minutes and in this time accumulated 12 points, one rebound, one assist, one steal, and one block. He had a plus 16 impact on the box score which was helped by the 6-of-8 shooting. Hard to miss shots when he is dunking like this.
However, Johnson has missed the opportunity to get more playing time in against reasonably easy teams due to entering the NBA’s concussion protocol. He could have been part of the Hawks’ easy wins against the Cleveland Cavaliers and the OKC Thunder which is the worst luck.
Alas, this was not the case and the rookie needs to prove his fitness before playing basketball again this season. Let us hope it is sooner rather than later because he is a rookie developing before our eyes.