Help may be on the way for the injury-depleted Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks are in a bad way due to their injuries. However, they may be close to getting a starter back on the court.

Atlanta Hawks forward Jalen Johnson
Atlanta Hawks forward Jalen Johnson / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

The Atlanta Hawks are in a familiar spot. Over the last few seasons, they have battled injury in a way that has ruined their chances, time and again. They have lost their star player, Trae Young, for pretty much the remainder of the season, on top of Onyeka Okongwu and Kobe Bufkin being out with relatively short-term injuries.

Earlier this month they lost Saddiq Bey to a season-ending knee injury and Jalen Johnson has been out of action since the sixth of March when he suffered an ankle sprain. This is a large part of their core that they have lost., However, to the surprise of most involved, they have done an incredible job on the back of Dejounte Murray's play to keep their play-in hopes alive since Young went down.

With only a month or so left in the season, the Hawks do not want to lose more players through injury. This is a distinct possibility given that they are on their longest road trip for the season and there is extra stress on the healthy players. However, the Hawks may finally get some good news on that front.

The Atlanta Hawks may be getting one of their starters back soon.

The Hawks may be close to getting their Swiss-army knife power forward back. Jalen Johnson was upgraded from out to doubtful for the Portland Trail Blazers clash indicating that the ankle is healing and the forward is close to a return.

Johnson is potentially in line for the Most Improved Player award this season, He is averaging 15.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.9 blocks in 34.0 minutes per game this season. With the exception of blocks per game, all of these numbers are double or more than his previous season averages.

Given that the Hawks started the game against the Blazers with Murray, Vit Krejci, Clint Capela, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Wesley Matthews, the need for Johnson to come back is real. Not only does his play add another dimension for the Hawks, they need his body on the court to take pressure off the rest of the team.

Johnson is still a project. He is still developing his prodigious talent and if he can get back on the court for the rest of the season then the Hawks coaching staff can continue his development. This season is over as far as the Hawks contending for a playoff berth goes. This season is now about developing for the future and Johnson returning is a crucial element in that process.