How the Atlanta Hawks should proceed with Kobe Bufkin

With the Atlanta Hawks season being in turmoil yet again, what should they do with Kobe Bufkin?

Nov 8, 2023; Mexico City, Mexico; Atlanta Hawks guard Kobe Bufkin interacts with a participant
Nov 8, 2023; Mexico City, Mexico; Atlanta Hawks guard Kobe Bufkin interacts with a participant / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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The Atlanta Hawks (24-31) are notorious for not playing their rookies, in fact, under coach Quin Snyder, this problem almost seems to be getting worse. Except for Jalen Johnson, Snyder only seems to be playing veterans, letting the G League develop the younger guys.

AJ Griffin appears to have regressed this season. Mind you, he is playing almost one third of the minutes per game than he was last season. As such his 3-point shooting percent has gone from 39.0 percent last season to 27.3 percent this season. This is not a knock on Griffin, he is simply not getting the time on court and is therefore unable to develop any rhythm.

Let us hope that this is not going to be the fate of the Hawks first-round draft pick of this season, Kobe Bufkin. He has played so little this season that if he was to have a reduction next year, he would be out of the league. Let's take a peek into Bufkin and what he could give the Hawks.

What could rookie Kobe Bufkin give the Atlanta Hawks?

So far this season, Bufkin has played just five games for the Hawks. During those games, he has only averaged 1.8 points, and 1.2 assists in only 5.0 minutes per game. These numbers are not tremendous but when you are given no opportunity you can't show what you are capable of.

Bufkin has shown more of what he can do in the G League where he has played 14 games for the College Park Skyhawks. During these games, Bufkin has averaged 23.6 points, 5.9 assists, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.3 steals in 31.9 minutes.He is also shooting the ball at a much better clip, hitting 35.6 percent of his 7.4 attempts from beyond the arc in these games.

The game after Trent Forrest became ineligible to play due to being active for 50 NBA games as a two-way player, Bufkin started to show what he could do at the NBA level. He was able to play just under 16 minutes and during that time had a plus/minus of zero. While he only scored three points and had three rebounds, his defense was the most impressive aspect of his game.

This appears to be the Hawks biggest problem this season. They are last in the NBA for defensive rating and seventh in the NBA for offiensive rating. This is giving them a net rating of 23rd which is just not good enough to compete with the best teams.

With Dejounte Murray not living up to his defensive hype, the Hawks need to develop Bufkin in case he can be Trae Young's foil in the future. Young has improved his defense out of sight and is being let down by his back court partner. Yes, Bufkin will most likely not match the offensive exploits of Murray, he should be able to take some pressure off Young

Either way, if the Hawks can give Bufkin an opportunity for Bufkin to show what he can do, they may also be able to include him as part of a trade in the offseason. They lose nothing by playing him and potentially gain a great deal. It is time to unleash Kobe Bufkin on the NBA to see what he can do. Now, Hawks brass, it is up to you to make it happen.

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