Jalen Johnson can make an impact for Hawks
It’s not set in stone, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Johnson was in line to start at the four this upcoming season. He’s going to battle trade deadline acquisition Saddiq Bey for the spot, but even if he doesn’t start, he should at the very least get even more playing time than before. If there’s a thing we already know, Johnson is a superb athlete and can fly when attempting dunks.
If there’s one thing Trae Young loves more than anything, it’s throwing lobs to his big men. According to PBP Stats (which measures the top passing-to-scoring combinations in the league), they found that Young and Capela connected for 152 assists (4th), and Young and Collins connected for 133 assists (9th).
For reference, Young and Johnson connected only 25 times last season. With Collins out of the picture, expect Johnson to be involved in a lot more Young pick-and-roll action. Johnson is as athletic as they come, so catching lobs should be a lot more frequent for him.
Including getting more opportunities to showcase the raw potential that is his inside game, his shooting should develop as well. Although still a work in progress, Snyder has encouraged Johnson (and Onyeka Okongwu for what it’s worth) to shoot more 3-point shots. For both of them, it’s still a work in progress. But floor spacing will be vital to both Johnson’s development and the Hawks’ success next season.
Having a big who can stretch the floor will do wonders for Young in particular. In that same article about Young and Murray, there was a section talking about turning defense into offense. To put it simply, Johnson loves to run when in the open floor.
With the skill set Johnson has already displayed plus the development of the raw areas of his game, it can be easy to see why Johnson might be the x-factor in his ever-growing role in Atlanta.
It is clear that Snyder likes what he has seen from Johnson and he should get to be even more impactful sharing the floor with Young.
It would not be surprising if Johnson were in the running for the Most Improved Player of the Year award this upcoming season.