NBA

Hawks won't have injured Johnson, Oknogwu for NBA Play-In Tournament

By Sports Desk April 11, 2024

The Atlanta Hawks' path to reaching the NBA play-offs has become much more difficult.

The Hawks will be without forward Jalen Johnson and centre Onyeka Okongwu for several weeks, meaning they'll miss next week's Play-In Tournament.

Johnson exited Tuesday's loss to the Miami Heat with a right ankle injury, and the Hawks announced Thursday that an MRI revealed a Grade 2 lateral sprain. He'll be re-evaluated in approximately three weeks.

Okongwu, who last played March 21 due to a left big toe sprain, underwent a non-surgical procedure on Tuesday to address inflammation. His recovery time is approximately four weeks.

Atlanta is guaranteed a spot in the Play-In Tournament, and entered play Thursday in 10th place in the Eastern Conference - 1 /2 games behind the Chicago Bulls. The two teams will meet in the Play-In Tournament, with the winner facing the loser of the game between the 7 and 8 seeds for a spot in the play-offs.

Both Johnson and Okongwu have played big parts for the Hawks this season.

Johnson started 52 of the 56 games he played in, averaging career highs of 16.0 points and 8.7 rebounds - the second highest on Atlanta behind Clint Capela's average of 10.6 boards.

Okongwu has appeared in 55 games, with averages of 10.2 points and 6.8 rebounds. In eight starts, he had averages of 16.1 points and 8.5 boards.

One bit of good news for the Hawks is Trae Young returned in Wednesday's 115-114 loss to the Charlotte Hornets after missing 23 games with a torn ligament in his left pinkie.

The three-time All-Star point guard made all five of his field-goal attempts, finishing with 14 points and 11 assists in 21 minutes in his first game since February 23.

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    Wembanyama received 98 of a possible 99 first-team votes to add to an impressive list of accolades after his first NBA season.

    Rudy Gobert, the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, was the only unanimous first-team selection.

    Gobert and Wembanyama were joined on the first team by the Miami Heat’s Bam Adebayo, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans’ Herb Jones.

    Gobert was voted All-Defence for the seventh time in his career, all on the first team.

    Adebayo, long considered a top-tier defender, was selected to the first team for the first time in his career. Even the veterans, however, were appreciative of Wembanyama’s rookie campaign.

    “Coming into this league, obviously he had high expectations because he's 7-3 and shooting step-back 3s. I think a lot of people paid attention more to that than what he actually did on the defensive end,” Adebayo said of Wembanyama. “So, for him to get first team, first come around, it's obviously a great accolade for him.”

    Wembanyama led the league with 3.58 blocked shots per game, over a block more per game than any other player. The towering Frenchman was also eighth in the league at 10.6 rebounds per game and ranked in the top 25 with 1.24 steals per game.

    This was the first season of position-less voting for the All-Defence teams, leading to a strong preference for interior defenders, but perimeter players were well-represented on the second team.

    The Chicago Bulls’ Alex Caruso, the Orlando Magic’s Jalen Suggs, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Jaden McDaniels and Boston Celtics backcourt mates Jrue Holiday and Derrick White were voted to the All-Defensive second team.

    The league will announce its three All-NBA teams on Wednesday.

     

     

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