Atlanta Hawks rookie Kobe Bufkin has played himself ahead of Trent Forrest

The Atlanta Hawks have shown that they are going to reward good play in Trae Young's absence. Kobe Bufkin is proof of that.
Feb 10, 2024; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Houston Rockets guard Aaron Holiday (0) is fouled by Atlanta
Feb 10, 2024; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Houston Rockets guard Aaron Holiday (0) is fouled by Atlanta / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks had a really rough game against the Brooklyn Nets. Their defense simply suffocated the Hawks offense and as a result, the starters had a really bad night. Bruno Fernando was not able to influence the contest either with his energy.

However, there was one shining light for the Hawks again. Rookie Kobe Bufkin showed that he has the potential to be a player of the future. In fact, the rookie was one of two players who did not have a negative impact on the box score during his time on the court. This even included some time when he was on the court when the game was in the balance.

He had a minus-five impact on the box score in his first stint on the court. In the second period, he was a big part of the Hawks getting back into the game where he was plus-seven on the box score. This shows that the rookie has a good head on his shoulders and is able to show plenty of poise in a crisis which is where the Hawks found themselves during this game.

The Atlanta Hawks need to foster the talents of Kobe Bufkin

As previously mentioned, the Hawks are unearthing a diamond in the rough of Trae Young's absence. Bufkin played well against the Magic but stepped it up again against the Nets. Bufkin had 12 points, three rebounds, and three assists in under 19 minutes. He went 5-of-11 from the floor and 2-of-5 from beyond the arc.

On top of that, he again showed that he is a solid defender, especially in a team setting. In fact, after playing less than 10 NBA games, Bufkin is now ahead of Trent Forrest in the Hawks rotations. The team decided on how to navigate the Forrest situation by waiving Patty Mills and offering the two-way player a full deal.

However, despite Forrest playing more games at the start of the season, Bufkin is getting more court time now. This is a really good move for the Hawks as it is easy to see that Bufkin's ceiling is higher than Forrest's. He is a better offensive weapon and is already more focused on the defensive end.

Forrest has the potential to be a decent role player, but it is obvious that the Hawks coaching staff want to see what they have in Bufkin. Now is the perfect time to do it. They are potentially about to miss the play-in tournament and that would be a good thing as it would improve their draft position.

If they can move one of their bigger contracts in the offseason, then they may have the ability to retool their roster and go again. To do this, they will need to develop their depth so that they have a reliable bench. Getting game time into Bufkin now is the best way to assess this. That is the main reason he is above Forrest in the rotation and will remain so for at least the rest of the season.