Hawks' Trae Young speaks on Onyeka Okongwu's development this season

Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young spoke candidly about Onyeka Okongwu's development and impact on the team this season.
Atlanta Hawks forward Onyeka Okongwu
Atlanta Hawks forward Onyeka Okongwu / Jordan Godfree-USA TODAY Sports

On a night that saw the Atlanta Hawks (22-27) finish with multiple players in double figures in a 141-134 win over the Golden State Warriors, picking a star was not easy.

Trae Young scored a team-high 32 points. Dejounte Murray scored seven of his 19 points in overtime. Clint Capela and Jalen Johnson both finished with double-doubles. But so did Onyeka Okongwu, whom Young was asked about during his postgame presser.

O hitting threes now for us is really good,” Young told reporters on February 3. “It adds another element to our team, element to his game. And ultimately makes his game a lot better, and that just makes our team better. So him knocking down threes, being aggressive, going for rebounds … just going for those types of things, it impacts our team and helps our team.

“We just need O to continue being himself and being O and bringing that type of energy that he brought tonight. That'll help us a lot, for sure.”

Okongwu finished second on the team with 22 points and snagged a game-high 16 rebounds.

He was 2-for-4 from beyond the arc in this contest, giving him 18 makes on 56 attempts this season, a 32.1% clip all of which sets new career-high marks for the fourth-year big man.

His four double-doubles off the bench are the fourth-most this season behind Bobby Portis, Day’Ron Sharpe, and Russell Westbrook. This was also his fourth straight game with double-digit points.

“Just overall dominate the paint,” Okongwu said. “Me and [Capela] finishing with a double-double, just making our presence known down low led to us winning tonight.”

Onyeka Okongwu sends message on Hawks’ chemistry

Okongwu was asked about what he’s seen from this team during their four-game winning streak. And his comments could speak volumes about the tumultuousness of the early going this season.

“I think the chemistry is getting better. And just credit to the crowd. Always play better in front of the home crowd,” Okongwu said. “We just got to keep it consistent. We're on a good roll, and we just got to continue to keep doing what we're doing to get us some more wins.”

The win, coupled with a loss by the Chicago Bulls, moved the Hawks to within one half-game of ninth place in the Eastern Conference.

That is still in the Play-In Tournament field. But it would be firmer ground.

The Hawks will close out their six-game homestand – during which they have now gone 4-1 – against the Los Angeles Clippers on February 5. The Clippers will be on the second leg of a back-to-back following a road battle with the Miami Heat.