Update: The Atlanta Hawks have released an official update on Trae Young’s injury status, indicating that he received treatment at the Emory Sports Medicine Complex and he was ruled out for Thursday’s game versus the Miami Heat.
Young will be re-evaluated on Monday.
When Trae Young was helped to the locker room after suffering a right ankle injury on Tuesday in Miami, the biggest story line surrounding the Atlanta Hawks shifted from the basketball court to the training room. The Hawks went on to drop a second straight game (by a 15-point margin) but, following that contest, most of the attention was paid to Young’s status, including the team announcing that X-rays were negative after an initial report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Still, there was a waiting game to come and, on Wednesday, more information came to light. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports brings word that Young will avoid an MRI entirely.
Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young will not need an MRI on his sprained right ankle and will be listed as day-to-day, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) October 30, 2019
From there, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski indicates that Young “could return as soon as next week” and Haynes indicates that there “wasn’t major swelling” in the ankle. Finally, Chris Vivlamore of the AJC reports that Young is ruled out for the team’s next game but will be re-evaluated next week. This is unequivocally positive news for Atlanta, even without official word from the team at this juncture.
For the sake of context, Atlanta’s upcoming schedule is a mixed bag. The Hawks return to action in a nationally televised game (one that Young will miss) against the Miami Heat on Thursday but, after that, Atlanta has a four-day break and then a stretch of three home games in four nights against the San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls and Sacramento Kings. That is a favorable run by any description but, after that, things get dicey with a five-game West Coast trip beginning on Nov. 10 with visits to Portland, Denver, Phoenix and Los Angeles. Having Young back at full strength for that journey is key to Atlanta’s hopes to remaining afloat in the standings, and all indications are that the former Oklahoma star could be available.
In Young’s stead, the Hawks do not have a traditional point guard on the active roster and that choice was a frequent point of conversation during the off-season. Brandon Goodwin comes the closest to that archetype and the 24-year-old is on a Two-Way contract that allows him to be promoted back to Atlanta for depth if the Hawks choose. Lloyd Pierce does have a sizable contingent of ball-handling options, however, and they include Kevin Huerter, DeAndre’ Bembry, Evan Turner, Cam Reddish and the newly acquired Ty Wallace, who made his Hawks debut on Tuesday.
One of the overarching questions about Atlanta’s season stemmed from what would take place when Young went to the bench, particularly on the offensive end. In the (exceptionally small) four-game sample available for 2019-20, the Hawks have struggled mightily to generate quality scoring opportunities without Young in the mix, scoring at a paltry rate of 87.9 points per 100 possessions (per NBA.com). When Young is on the court, that number rises to a figure of 110.4 points per 100 possessions, placing Atlanta in strong company when compared to other offenses around the league and backing up the eye test. That comes on the heels of a 2018-19 campaign in which the Hawks were 6.6 points per 100 possessions better offensively with Young at the helm than with any other configuration, with that number ticking up to 9.6 points per 100 possessions beginning on Dec. 1.
Simply put, there are major question marks as to how the Hawks will fare without Young in the lineup, even if the upcoming schedule is relatively favorable until the West Coast journey begins. Because the Hawks banked a pair of wins in the season’s first week, there is more wiggle room but, in the same breath, visions of playoff contention dictate that Atlanta’s overall margin for error is relatively narrow.
There are plenty of questions as to how Atlanta will navigate any time when Young leaves the floor, whether within the confines of a single game or over an extended stretch. At this point, however, the Hawks have an estimate of how long their centerpiece will be on the shelf and it is an encouraging one.