5 Atlanta Hawks who must step up in Trae Young's absence

With Trae Young out for roughly the next month, these five Atlanta Hawks need to step up to keep the team in playoff contention.

Atlanta Hawks forward Jalen Johnson and guard Dejounte Murray
Atlanta Hawks forward Jalen Johnson and guard Dejounte Murray / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
1 of 5

Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young will miss roughly the next month at least with a surgical procedure for his pinky scheduled for February 27.

The Hawks need several players to step up in his absence.

They have a better net efficiency differential without him on the floor than with him, per Cleaning The Glass. But that is largely skewed by his struggles earlier in the season, some of which came while playing in injury-riddled lineups himself. 

The games have shown a team that often looks rudderless on offense without the three-time All-Star at the helm.

Their win over the Orlando Magic was the blueprint, however.

As one might imagine, Dejounte Murray has to be at the top of the pecking order for the offense can be successful while Young is on the shelf. Murray finished the 109-92 victory one rebound short of a triple-double.

Dejounte Murray has to return to 2021-22 Spurs form for Hawks

Murray had 25 points, 11 assists, nine rebounds, and two steals. He also connected on two of his four looks from beyond the arc. 

It’s the fourth time this season that Murray has dished out 10-plus assists.

The Hawks have gone undefeated in those games, while three of them have come without Young in the lineup. And Murray, whose lone All-Star appearance came as a point guard with the San Antonio Spurs, has proven more than capable of directing an offense.

Murray averaged fewer points that season than he is this year, but he also dished out 9.2 assists per game.

Young, the preternatural passer that he is, is averaging 10.8 assists per game.

If the Hawks can get that version of Murray without Young, they could do more than tread water without the latter. They already boast a strong net efficiency differential with Murray running the point.

If nothing else, their decision to hold onto the former steals champion at the trade deadline is proving almost prescient. This is why he was brought in.

It can’t just be Murray who steps up, though.