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
2 of 5

Jalen Johnson has to find another gear for Hawks

Third-year forward Jalen Johnson is already a bona fide Most Improved Player candidate, nearly tripling his scoring, assists, and steals and doubling his rebounding production over last season.

Johnson is averaging 15.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.2 steals, proving to be a vital part of the team’s success.

The Hawks went 4-10 while he was sidelined with a wrist injury.

“Jalen Johnson has been their third best player this year behind Trae Young and Dejounte Murray,” an anonymous rival executive said, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype on November 29.

Lineups with Johnson on and Young off have also seen positive regression versus when they share the floor.

The ideal version of the Hawks is all three of Young, Murray, and Johnson making plays.

That is not always easy with one basketball, and Johnsonson could very well benefit from having even more on-ball reps. His playmaking was arguably his most promising skill coming out of college.

With Young out, the Hawks need Johnson to regain his groove from beyond the arc. He is shooting a career-high 34.5% from beyond the arc – 35.1% on catch-and-shoot looks. 

But he is shooting 14.3% on threes over the last four games.

The good news is that he went 2-for-5 from deep in the win over the Magic. Additionally, his size and ability to get downhill are going to be key. Atlanta was minus-1 in second-chance points versus Orlando, but still managed to be plus-8 in paint points.

He was shooting 36.6% on the season before this recent slump. So he has it in him to pick it up, and the Hawks need it more than ever.