2 Young players the Hawks should develop, 2 to give up on

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports /

Develop: Onyeka Okongwu

The second-highest drafted player on the Hawks’ roster is Young, selected No. 5 overall in the
2018 NBA Draft. But right behind him is backup big man Onyeka Okongwu, the No. 6 overall pick in 2020.

Okongwu, 22, averaged 9.9 points, 7.2 boards, 1.0 assists, and 1.3 blocks in 2022-23. The former USC standout appeared in 80 games – 26 more than his previous career-high set during his rookie campaign. He also made good on his vow to come back with a usable jumper, as evidenced by his 56 attempts from the mid-range and 13 three-pointers taken.

He had zero attempts of either variety in 2021-22.

There are a couple of issues, though. First, the Hawks are facing a time crunch with Okongwu extension eligible this offseason.

That means the team still controls the situation next offseason but their last few forays into the extension market have yielded mixed results with six Hawks receiving new money from the team who were on the 2021 team that made the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Hawks have a looming decision to make on Onyeka Okongwu

Of those six, two have already been traded – Collins and Kevin Huerter (to the Sacramento Kings) – while the other four have all been mired in trade rumors at some point.

That includes Young.

The other issue is the Hawks have Clint Capela from a potent starting lineup under contract for the next two years on a $46 million extension signed in the aftermath of that ECF run. Capela also happens to be one of Young’s top passing targets, though the idea of moving him has still gained steam within the organization, according to reports.