3 Hawks whose value is on the rise, 2 who are fading fast

Atlanta Hawks, Jalen Johnson. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks, Jalen Johnson. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /
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Atlanta Hawks, Onyeka Okongwu
Atlanta Hawks, Onyeka Okongwu. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

5. Riser: Onyeka Okongwu

This season was expected to be big for fourth-year big man Onyeka Okongwu and, despite the situation around him changing very little, he is still maximizing his opportunities so far.

Okongwu is averaging career-best marks with 11.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.4 assists this season.

Even more encouraging, he is working on spreading the floor, shooting 28.6% on 1.0 threes.

The Hawks signed Okongwu to a four-year, $62 million contract extension ahead of the deadline, locking him in through the 2027-28 season. It also brings the future of Clint Capela into question. Capela was a mainstay in trade rumors late in the offseason but, healthy to start the season, he has been a pivotal part of their success.

Still, Oknogwu is the future. They have given him some burn at power forward. But that being his permanent home in the lineup is a long shot barring his three-ball becoming far more efficient and consistent.

It’s a good problem for the Hawks – who rank third in rebounding on the season – to have, especially as they still feel their way out on offense.

Okongwu was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2020 draft.

There have been high expectations for Okongwu from the beginning. And he has long shown the flashes of a ceiling as a switchable big who is equally as malleable on offense. His willingness to be open about his shortcomings and where he is working to improve is also encouraging.

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And, until the Hawks have to make a decision, they can reap the benefits of rostering two of the more active bigs in the league.