The Atlanta Hawks are on track to get one of their best scorers back in Bogdan Bogdanovic. This team will look very different going into the 2022-23 NBA regular season. Their blockbuster trade for Dejounte Murray was one of the biggest moves of the offseason. But their biggest shakeup is going to be on the bench.
Danilo Gallinari is gone from the Murray trade and is now with the Boston Celtics. Delon Wright signed with the division-rival Washington Wizards. Lou Williams is still a free agent but there has been no public talk of bringing him back.
In their place are Aaron Holiday, Justin Holiday, and (presumably) second-year forward Jalen Johnson with veteran Maurice Harkless mixed in.
The two constants are Bogdanovic and third-year big man Onyeka Okongwu.
Atlanta Hawks on track to get Sixth Man of the Year candidate back to begin season
Okongwu missed the first half of last season appearing in 48 games all year. The Hawks also swapped reserve center Gorgui Dieng for Frank Kaminsky. Bogdanovic’s return to health would seem to be paramount to the bench being able to support the starter’s efforts. So his surprise knee surgery in May loomed as a serious issue.
It was his third procedure for an issue that began two years ago in the postseason when he suffered an avulsion fracture in his right knee.
But, in a recent video from the Serbian Basketball Federation, we can see him getting shots up.
Now, this is not much. But Bogdanovic is moving around and getting off of the ground on that knee.
And, as EuroHoop’s Johnny Askounis reports, it is more than some light shooting in street clothes.
“Since the surgery and in recovery, the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champion with Fenerbahce in 2017 has been working out in the USA and recently expanded to on-court drills in Serbia.”
Bogdanovic averaged 15.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.1 assists last season.
His efficiency fell from the year before shooting 43.1% from the floor. But he still saw 36.8% of his threes fall. That is third among returning Hawks rotation players with Kevin Huerter gone too.
If there is one concern, it is that there will be a lot of scoring responsibility placed on the 30-year-old who has undergone multiple surgical procedures on his knee in the last two years.
Last year’s bench unit was middle-of-the-pack largely because its best members were thrust into the starting lineup due to injuries. The Holiday brothers have both produced at this level, as has Harkless.
Johnson is still full of potential but is still raw and did not play in summer league.
But he is raw and none of them or Okongwu is the kind of scorer that Bogdanovic is and that the Hawks need. Especially when with Murray’s lack of perimeter shooting.