A potential development path for Atlanta Hawks sophomore Jalen Johnson

Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Hawks have made a multitude of moves over the offseason. While the end goal may not have been to keep John Collins but that appears to be the upshot of it all. They have signed Frank Kaminsky as a reserve but as things are currently structured, Collins is the only true power forward with any real NBA experience left on the roster.

The Hawks do have a combination forward on their roster who spent most of last season developing in the G League. That’s right, Jalen Johnson, the 19th pick from the 2021 NBA draft was not played anywhere enough last season in the varsity squad but that can all change this season.

While Nate McMillan has always been conservative when it comes to playing his rookies, he has always been a big fan of incremental development. As soon as he took over from Lloyd Pierce McMillan started developing that season’s rookie Onyeka Okongwu and he developed into a beast.

How the Atlanta Hawks need to develop Jalen Johnson

The way that McMillan develops young players is he gives them a task to master before giving them something else to work on. For a player with such a diverse skillset as Johnson, this may seem like a waste of time but it is actually the best way for him to develop.

McMillan needs to use Johnson off the bench behind Collins, sending him out for three or four minutes a period. His first task should be to collect as many rebounds as he can get. This should be his sole focus for the first five to ten games. Anything else that comes along during this time should be a bonus.

However, on the offensive side of the ball, Johnson needs to involve himself in pick and rolls as well as making strong, hard cuts to the hoop. If he is able to shake his player then Trae Young and Dejounte Murray will find him for the easy bucket which will be a massive benefit to the team.

Next. Jalen Johnson out until training camp. dark

From there, aspects of his game need to be added incrementally. Focusing on rebounds first means that he will then be able to push the ball up the floor, creating for himself and others on offense. This is a skill set he has shown during his college days and then last season with the G League.