Hawks player opens up about role amid Trae Young's absence after latest loss

One Atlanta Hawks player spoke candidly about their role and production amid the team's latest rash of injuries.
Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young
Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

The Atlanta Hawks (26-34) are back on the skids in an already trying season following back-to-back losses to the Brooklyn Nets. 

The Hawks have gone 2-2 without Trae Young since he went down. He is sidelined until later this month following surgery on his pinky. He is slated to be re-evaluated in a little over two weeks. But it’s been a different setup for backup big man Bruno Fernando.

It's an adjustment,” Fernando told Jameelah Johnson on March 2. “But that's what we here for, just to continue to adjust. And there is in-game adjustments we got to make. … You got to understand, Kobe [Bufkin]'s left-handed, Dejounte [Murray]’s right-handed. Dejounte likes to get downhill with the right hand. Kobe wants to get to his middy, or something like that. 

“Just kind of trying to figure it out. And also communicating that with them, trying to figure out their best spots on the floor and trying to get them open looks.”

Fernando commended the Hawks’ ability to attack the paint at the guard and forward spots.

Bufkin, Murray, fellow guard Bogdan Bogdanovic, and forwards De’Andre Hunter and Jalen Johnson can all put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. Saddiq Bey can to some extent too, though he is even better as a cutter and put-back artist. 

“That's a part of the game that we have an advantage against a lot of teams,” Fernando said. “So we got to continue to use that.”

Those are especially prescient words in Young’s absence.

Bruno Fernando a pleasant surprise for Hawks in increased role

Fernando has been one of the more pleasant developments, even amid the injuries and inconsistency.

Thrust into a prominent role amid injuries, first to Clint Capela and now Onyeka Okongwu, Fernando is on track for the second-most appearances and second-most minutes per game of his five-year career. He is averaging a career-high 4.8 points with 3.1 rebounds.

He is averaging 7.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.0 assists over his last 10 appearances.

“I'm just trying to capitalize on my opportunity, maximizing as much as I can on the opportunity I've been given,” Fernando said. “Just getting out there and trying to see what I fill in and just trying to get to my spots and whatever I can do to help the team.

“I've been just really staying focused on the smallest things that I can get out there and do and help the team. And everything else going take care of itself. I'm not really worried about that.”

Fernando had seen double-digit minutes just three times in the Hawks’ first 49 games of the season. He was a DNP-CD for 32 of those games and inactive for another four contests. He has seen more than 10 minutes in his last 10 appearances.

It's just unfortunate that it had to come amid injuries, not only at his position but also in the Hawks’ backcourt.