Rookie big man suffers setback for injury-depleted Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks' rocky season took another downward turn with their latest injury news regarding this rookie big man prospect.

Atlanta Hawks big man Mouhamed Gueye
Atlanta Hawks big man Mouhamed Gueye / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

The Atlanta Hawks’ injury woes continue, impacting players who would otherwise be critical down the stretch.

This isn’t just about starters Jalen Johnson and Saddiq Bey, the latter of whom is out for the season with a torn ACL. It’s not even about backup big man Onyeka Okongwu, who is dealing with a toe injury that has kept him sidelined for the last 11 contests.

Hawks rookie Mouhamed Gueye is now dealing with an elbow injury.

“Mouhamed Gueye injured his right elbow/forearm during Tuesday’s @CPSkyhawks game at Indiana, while on G League assignment. An MRI taken yesterday in Chicago revealed an ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) sprain,” the team announced in a statement on X, formerly Twitter, on March 15.

“Gueye will return to Atlanta to begin rehabilitation and will be re-evaluated in seven-to-10 days. An update will be provided as appropriate.”

The Charlotte Hornets selected Gueye with the No. 39 overall pick in the 2023 draft. The Hawks acquired him from the Boston Celtics, who had acquired him from the Hornets in the wake of the draft.

Gueye only recently joined the Skyhawks after dealing with a back injury for much of the season.

He even showed how he could stuff the stat sheet against the Mad Ants.

Injuries are never easy to deal with. And for these Hawks, they are especially detrimental.

Gueye had yet to make a significant impact with the Hawks, perhaps due in no small part his injuries (he is also still a second-round rookie). But the cumulative impact of the Hawks' injuries are taking a toll.

Hawks frontcourt injuries put even more stress on offensive efficency, defense

The Hawks are without Trae Young, with the three-time All-Star missing the last nine games. But their injuries in the frontcourt are so plentiful that Gueye’s injury seems more crushing than it should for a second-round rookie.

Starting center Clint Caela has been back in the lineup as long as Young has been out. And acting backup Bruno Fernando has acquitted himself fine given the circumstances.

The Hawks are one of the smaller teams in the league when fully healthy.

Losing players in the frontcourt and at the pivot are brutal. Outside of Capela (6-foot-10) and Fernando (6-foot-9), De’Andre Hunter and two-way player Vit Krejci, each listed at 6-foot-8, are the tallest players on the roster.

Neither is a particularly strong rebounder, leaving the defensively porous Hawks reliant on efficiency from their offense at the worst time and inefficiency from their opponents.

The Hawks are riding a two-game skid. They did win three straight before that.

However, they are also an all-too-familiar .500 over their last 10 games at 5-5. With four games remaining on their current five-game road trip, including their March 15 matchup against the Utah Jazz, things don’t figure to get any easier. At least not in the interim.