3 goals for Atlanta Hawks big man Onyeka Okongwu

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

The Atlanta Hawks were a different team last season after Onyeka Okongwu came back from shoulder surgery. The big man was due to be out for six months from when he had the surgery but such is the determination of the man he managed to come back early.

After his return, there were games where they were playing so well that he even kept starting center Clint Capela on the bench during clutch time. It would be interesting to know what the Hawks could have accomplished if Okongwu had been healthy for the entire season.

Okongwu was snubbed from the Rising Stars tournament last season, mostly due to injury but it was a snub nonetheless. Expect him to use moments like these as motivation for the coming season as he is one of the better big men to enter the league in the past couple of seasons.

Atlanta Hawks big man Onyeka Okongwu has developed despite his interrupted start

During his rookie season, the Hawks missed the opportunity to develop Okongwu under their old head coach Lloyd Pierce. However, when Nate McMillan took over he started to methodically develop him, giving him some responsibility before increasing it when he thought that Okongwu could handle it.

The Hawks reaped the rewards of this in his sophomore year when he returned to the court. He averaged 4.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 0.7 blocks, and 0.5 steals in 12.0 minutes per game as a rookie. As a sophomore, Okongwu averaged 8.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, 1.1 assists, and 0.6 steals in 20.7 minutes per game.

He even improved his incredible efficiency over his first two seasons. He went at 64.4 percent from the floor as a rookie and 69.0 percent as a sophomore. Okongwu also improved his free throw shooting, going from 63.2 percent as a rookie to 72.7 percent as a sophomore. Now let’s take a look at three goals for Onyeka Okongwu for the Atlanta Hawks this season.