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
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Kobe Bufkin has to let the game come to him with Hawks

Rookie first-round pick Kobe Bufkin has made the most of his opportunities in the G League after a slow start to his rookie campaign due to injury. He is averaging 23.6 points, 5.9 assists, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.3 steals in 14 appearances with the College Park Skyhawks.

The 6-foot-4 guard has not put up big numbers with the Hawks just yet, logging season-highs of three points, three assists, and three rebounds on the year.

He profiles as more of a sub for Murray and even a potential replacement amid trade rumors.

But the Hawks got to see what he and Murray look like in the same backcourt, with the duo logging 19 possessions together. In two lineup iterations, the Hawks have posted a minus-1.2 net efficiency differential in those minutes.

That is too small of a sample size to draw any meaningful conclusions from. If nothing else, it gives them an extremely athletic and defensively active pairing.

Bufkin also pairs well with Bogdanovic who is not the stoutest defender.

The Hawks would be wise to mix in heavy doses of veteran Patty Mills, and even Trent Forrest if they ever resolve his contract situation. But it also makes a lot of sense to get Bufkin as much exposure as possible.

He is a long-term piece of the puzzle and, while the Hawks may not admit it or even feel that way, expectations are lower without Young in the mix.

There is enough skill around to keep him from feeling as though he has to do any heavy lifting.