Hawks: Are we going to see Jalen Johnson in Atlanta in 2021?

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The Knicks snapped Atlanta’s seven-game win streak Saturday night to the tune of a 99-90 final score, but the more troubling news came as Atlanta lost two of its prominent players in Cam Reddish and Bogdan Bogdanovic. The former left the game with a wrist injury and underwent an MRI that revealed a left wrist sprain. Just moments later, the latter exited the game after suffering an apparent lower-body injury, which was later confirmed as a sprained ankle.

Reddish’s status will be updated based on how he responds to treatment, while Bogi will be re-evaluated in two weeks. They join De’Andre Hunter, who is expected to miss another two months after undergoing wrist surgery, as the Hawks experience a bit of Deja Vu. Last year, nearly every core player missed some time.

With all these injuries, the Hawks’ deep roster is beginning to thin. So should they consider giving rookie Jalen Johnson more minutes? In four games with G-League affiliate Skyhawks, the former Duke Blue Devil has averaged 14.8 points on 45.8% shooting from the field and 36.4% from three, 14 rebounds, and two assists.

At 6’9″ and 220 pounds, Johnson brings size and athleticism to what was once a loaded wing group in Atlanta. He’s a combo forward who can play the 3 or 4, able to run the floor and make plays with the ball in his hand while shooting well enough from three-point range.

Johnson can be a serviceable small forward behind Cam Reddish and Solomon Hill while also playing power forward behind John Collins. At the very least, the Hawks would benefit from his high-energy and transition capabilities. It seems like a no-brainer Johnson will eventually be worked into the rotation before the trio of wings return from injury, right? Well, that might not be the case as Nate McMillan quickly put that possibility to bed Monday.

For now, it looks like the Hawks view Johnson strictly as a front court player. However, perhaps they will give him more looks on the wing in the G-League as the season progresses.

 

 

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