Hawks dealt potentially significant blow with Trae Young injury update

The Atlanta Hawks updated Trae Young's injury status following his early exit in the eventual loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young
Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young / Alex Slitz/GettyImages

The Atlanta Hawks (18-24) could be without Trae Young for at least one game.

He could miss their road date against the Sacramento Kings on January 22, following news that he has entered the NBA’s concussion protocol.

“Trae Young left last night’s game vs. Cleveland after drawing a charge with 8:43 remaining in the fourth quarter,” reads the team’s release from January 20. After an evaluation by the team’s athletic training and medical staff, Young has been diagnosed with a concussion.

“Per the league’s Concussion Policy, Young will begin the NBA-mandated Return-to-Participation process. This process includes a series of steps designed to ensure an athlete exhibits symptom-free behavior before resuming basketball activities. There is no predetermined timetable to complete the process. Each injury and player is different and recovery time can vary in each case.”

While cases vary, Young must be symptom-free for at least 24 hours before attempting to pass a battery of tests, putting him on a slim timeline to be cleared for the tilt against the Kings.

The Hawks are familiar with this process after former Hawks star John Collins entered concussion protocol in February of the 2022-23 season, missing just one game before returning to the floor.

The Hawks were down 102-77 in the final frame when Young drew the charge on Cavs forward Isaac Okoro. Young stayed down for a moment before heading straight back to the Hawks locker room.

The NBA’s official return-to-participation policy reads as follows:

"b. Return to Participation Requirements. A player who had a concussion may not return to participation until:

i. He is without concussion-related symptoms at rest;
ii. He has been evaluated by a physician;
iii. He has successfully completed the NBA return-to-participation exertion process; and iv. A team physician has discussed the return-to-participation process and decision with the Director of the NBA Concussion Program. Note that the final return-to-participation decision is to be made by the player’s team physician, in order to maximize the consistency of care for the player.


The series of exertion tests include “a stationary bike, to jogging, to agility work, to non-contact team drills,” the policy states. If Young fails to pass any of the steps, he must pause until he is symptom-free before resuming the previous step.

Trae Young was efficient before early exit in Hawks loss

The Hawks star, who finished second among guards in the Eastern Conference All-Star fan voting returns, exited the game with 15 points and five assists.

He was efficient too, shooting 50% from the floor and going 3-for-4 from deep.

The Hawks have gone 2-1 in Young’s previous absences this season. And their net efficiency differential swings from minus-3.0 when Young is off the floor to plus-1.7 when he isn’t, per Cleaning The Glass.

Interestingly enough, that rating “jumps” to minus-0.7 when Young is on the floor without breakout star Jalen Johnson.

But they are 15-20 without him since he entered the league in 2018-19.

Given that the next game following that Kings tilt is also a road date -- against the Golden State Warriors -- it would not be surprising to see the Hawks hold Young out until they return home for a six-game stand starting on January 26 versus the Dallas Mavericks.