The Atlanta Hawks are going in the right direction with Trae Young out

The Atlanta Hawks are moving in the right direction with Trae Young out, going for the younger guys rather than experience.
Feb 25, 2024; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Kobe Bufkin (4) is guarded by Orlando Magic
Feb 25, 2024; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Kobe Bufkin (4) is guarded by Orlando Magic / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks are facing another injury crisis. This seems to be the story of the last few seasons and again, it is threatening to ruin their season. The latest injury to the lineup is their superstar, Trae Young, and it is far worse than first thought.

Young is out due to a pinky injury, and it is far worse for the team than anyone could have predicted. He is to have surgery on the finger and could miss a month of basketball. This has the potential to allow the Hawks to tank for the rest of the season. However, it is the chance for the Hawks to play some of their younger guys and see what they can do.

This may also cause the Hawks to rethink their Trent Forrest issue where he cannot play any more games on his current two-way deal. Fortunately, due to the play of their first-round pick, Kobe Bufkin, this is all just a conversation point. If Bufkin can continue to impress as he did against the Orlando Magic, then the Hawks may have a solution moving forward.

The Atlanta Hawks need to continue to develop Kobe Bufkin.

Bufkin was impressive in his 11 minutes against the Magic. While he only scored two points, he also had three assists, one rebound, and one steal. He only had one turnover in this time which is impressive for a first-year player.

On top of that, he brings plenty of energy to the court and works hard to stay in front of his player on defense. Given that the Hawks have the worst defensive rating in the NBA right now, any player who works hard on that end of the court should be rewarded with court time.

The other impressive number from Bufkin's outing was that the Hawks were plus-six when the rookie was on the court. That is an excellent number for a player playing with teammates he is not very familiar with due to a lack of playing time together.

We here at Soaring Down South have written several articles recently about the need to play their younger guys. While they are wasting the sophomore season of AJ Griffin, he is currently out due to injury after just two games of his G League assignment.

The injury crisis has forced the Hawks' hands in the big man department. Bruno Fernando playing some of the most important minutes of his career and showing that he can bring more to the table than just solid defense. His energy against the Toronto Raptors was a key element for the Hawks being in the game.

Hopefully, the Young injury can provide the same opportunity for Bufkin. If so, then the rookie will develop in a much faster fashion than if he was stuck in the G League. If the Hawks play him for a decent amount of time when Young is out then they will be able to see what they have in the rookie. This may change the Hawks strategy in free agency and during the draft.