Another week, another All-Star that goes down with an injury.
The Atlanta Hawks have mostly been able to avoid the injury bug this season, but it hit hard last week when star point guard Trae Young went down with an ankle injury that has been diagnosed as a lateral left ankle sprain by the team following an MRI, a source told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Young picked up the injury—which is far less serious than initially thought—last Wednesday during an eventual 137-127 overtime loss to the scorching hot New York Knicks. The Lubbock, Texas native suffered the sprain when he landed strangely following a floater attempt with just over one minute left in the third quarter. He seemed to be in a lot of pain lying on the hardwood after turning the ankle, and he would leave the game and not return.
Since then, he has missed the Hawks’ last two contests, both of which Atlanta won in big-time upsets over the Miami Heat (118-103) and the Milwaukee Bucks (111-104).
That should give them great confidence going into future games without Young, including their Monday night matchup with the Detroit Pistons, for which they are favorites, offering -175 NBA odds. A better NBA pick for this game might be Atlanta’s -4 NBA point spread, which is offering much more appealing -118 NBA odds. It should be one of the top picks for Monday night’s NBA slate considering A-town’s recent run of form.
With that early success sans Young, the Hawks could take the more prudent route with their star and keep him out a little longer than might be necessary as they prepare for the playoffs. They will definitely need Young come playoff time, so being careful and staying on the safe side with this injury should be expected from Atlanta here.
Young can be cleared to return to the lineup as soon as discomfort and swelling are gone, which usually takes just under three weeks with these kinds of injuries. That means that we might not see Young back in there for at least another week or two and maybe more if his compadres keep up their winning ways in the 22-year-old’s absence.
Young’s play this season didn’t quite earn him his second straight All-Star Game invite a couple of months ago, but he’s been carrying his squad during this campaign. The Hawks have been one of several teams that has overachieved greatly so far this season, sitting in the fifth spot in the East as of this writing.
Most thought that Young paired with John Collins and Clint Capela—who has been a revelation this season, leading the league in rebounding (14.7) and putting up three 20-point, 20-rebound games so far—would be in the mix for the play-in, but to avoid that tournament altogether and snag one of the top six seeds seemed unlikely.
A lot of the credit for the surprise success has to go to Young, who’s putting up 25.3 points, a career-high 9.6 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game this season, and interim head coach Nate McMillan, who took over after Lloyd Pierce was fired in February.