The Atlanta Hawks face the Orlando Magic in Mexico City on Thursday in what should be an exciting matchup between two talented groups. Through seven games, the Hawks are 4-3. And, while they would undoubtedly like to get away from hovering around .500 as they did last season, this year has a very different feel in terms of what we’ve seen from them on the court.
For starters, they rank in the top 10 in several offensive categories. And a lot of it has to do with the reshuffling they did, both with the coaching staff last season and the overall roster this season.
The John Collins trade seemingly left them with a hole at power forward. One which they tried to fill via trade this offseason.
Instead, it created an opportunity for our No. 1 riser ahead of Game No. 8 on the season.
Jalen Johnson’s stock rising fast for Atlanta Hawks
No Hawks player has shined brighter in their opportunities than third-year forward Jalen Johnson. The former No. 20 overall selection (2021) out of Duke is delivering on the promise of his pre-draft potential as a scorer and playmaker. And, in the absence of Collins, Johnson’s ability to guard multiple positions and battle on the glass is critical.
He is averaging career-highs across the board with 14.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.3 steals, and 0.7 blocks.
Johnson is also sinking 31.6% of his 2.7 three-point attempts per game, both career highs.
There are still some things he needs to iron out in his game. His fouls (2.4) and turnovers (1.9) are both at career-high marks, though some of that is a function of him seeing the floor a lot more this season.
Johnson still boasts the highest net efficiency differential on the Hawks this season, per Cleaning The Glass. He has also gone from fighting to lock down a consistent role last season to being fourth on the Hawks in minutes this season, averaging more than 30 minutes per game and starting four of his seven appearances this season.