Hawks get Jalen Johnson back but could be without Trae Young vs Bulls

The Atlanta Hawks are set to get Jalen Johnson back in the lineup but might have to face off against the Chicago Bulls without Trae Young.
Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young and forward Jalen Johnson
Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young and forward Jalen Johnson / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

The Atlanta Hawks are 12-17 on the season, and they have gone 4-10 since losing forward Jalen Johnson to a fractured wrist. They were 0-2 before inserting him into the starting lineup too, underscoring his impact with a 7-5 record as a starter.

Fortunately for the Hawks, Johnson will return to the floor on December 26 against the Chicago Bulls.

“Atlanta Hawks forward Jalen Johnson will return to action vs. the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium,” Charania said in a post on X on December 25. “Johnson – averaging 14.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 42.5% from 3 –  has emerged as a key to the Hawks lineup.”

His impact shows up on tape and in the stat sheet.

The Hawks boast a plus-5.2 net efficiency differential with Johnson on the floor and minus-1.8 without him, per Cleaning the Glass.

This follows what ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported just a couple of days ago regarding Johnson’s then-potential return.

“There’s optimism Atlanta Hawks F Jalen Johnson (left wrist) can return as soon as Tuesday vs. the Chicago Bulls, sources tell ESPN,” Wojnarowski posted in a message on X on December 23, ahead of the Hawks’ loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Trae Young certainly wasn’t shy about noting how much the Hawks miss Johnson.

He brings a lot to us,” Young said via the team after the loss to Memphis. “I saw his dad courtside and saw his family there tonight – I think they're all here for Christmas – and was telling his I'm ready for his son to be back and help us. And I know if Jaylen is ready to be back, and whether it's next game, or the game after, he's going to help us whenever he gets back.

“I'm just happy he's healing and it's nothing that can drag on any longer. So we definitely miss him, obviously with the way we've been playing. We're low on some size, and some rebounding, and certain areas. But he's going to bring a lot to our team.”

The Hawks do have a worse net efficiency differential with Johnson as the fifth starter alongside Young, Clint Capela, Dejounte Murray, and De’Andre Hunter than with anyone else in that spot.

But that may say more about what was going on around him than it does about him directly.

Trae Young pops up on Hawks injury report

For as good as it will be for the Hawks to have Johnson back in the fold, they could be without Young for their tilt against the Chicago Bulls on December 26. Young popped up on the injury report with a shoulder ailment.

He is listed as questionable with a “right shoulder AC sprain” on the report.

Young – who is averaging 28.3 points on 59.2% true shooting with 11.2 rebounds this season – is in the midst of a historic run of 30-point, 10-assist performances.

The Hawks star has missed two games this season: one for the birth of his second child and the other with an illness. He first popped up on the report with his balky shoulder on December 12. But he did not miss any time and had not been listed since December 13, when he was upgraded from questionable to available for the loss to the Toronto Raptors.

Atlanta has a plus-1.2 net efficiency differential with Young on the court this season and a minus-1.1 net efficiency differential when he is off.

The Hawks are 1-1 without Young this season.