Which Atlanta Hawks players are going to lose playing time to rookie?

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

The Atlanta Hawks looked like they were in trouble when John Collins fouled out against the Toronto Raptors. Head coach Nate McMillan then turned to rookie AJ Griffin rather than his more obvious reserve, Jalen Johnson. To say that the move paid off would be an understatement. He has more than punched his ticket into the Hawks rotations.

Johnson has been improving his chemistry with the second unit all season but this was not the game that he was going to make a difference. It turns out that Griffin was an inspired choice by McMillan and his play for the last ten minutes of the game was the main reason the Hawks were even in it at all.

It was not just the scoring that Griffin bought to the court. In fact, his scoring was mostly done inside the 3-point arc which is not the norm for the rookie. He only hit 1-of-6 from deep but was still able to score 17 points. His offensive rebound from a free throw was huge for the team down the stretch. Then you can’t forget the fact that he had the IQ to break down the court with seconds left and make the game-winning basket.

So which members of the Atlanta Hawks playing group will lose court time?

The obvious answer to this question is Johnson in the first part. He only played just under six minutes and had minimal impact. Griffin showed that he was capable of filling in the power forward spot given that he had the defensive prowess of Clint Capela, De’Andre Hunter, and Dejounte Murray helping him out.

The other obvious player who is going to lose court time is Justin Holiday. The veteran is a canny defender and a solid 3-point shooter. He is, however, already at his ceiling. You know what you will get from him. However, Griffin’s ceiling is higher, but as a rookie, expect his floor to also be lower than Holiday’s at times.

Aaron Holiday is also another candidate to lose playing time given that Griffin also showed the ability to help bring the ball up the floor. Griffin is a gifted shot creator for himself, he just needs to work on his shot creation for his teammates a little more but that will come with time.

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This is not to say that Griffin is going to have consistent court time. He is not going to be the answer in every situation and there is also the return of Bogdan Bogdanovic to consider. One thing is for sure, this is a good problem for the Atlanta Hawks coaching staff to have.