Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young suffered what the organization described as a left ankle sprain late in the third quarter of Wednesday evening’s overtime loss against the New York Knicks. On the play, Young landed awkwardly after attempting a floater in the lane and, immediately, he appeared to be in considerable pain, needing assistance to leave the floor and return to the locker room.
Trae exited the game with what appeared to be a left leg injury. pic.twitter.com/Dxl8JHKMIa— Bally Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnBally) April 22, 2021
Following Wednesday’s game, interim head coach Nate McMillan shared the news that X-rays on Young’s ankle were negative and the 22-year-old guard would undergo an MRI on Thursday. On Thursday afternoon, Young appeared on ESPN’s The Jump and conveyed a relatively positive sentiment before the MRI took place.
Trae Young tells @Rachel__Nichols on @NBATheJump it was fortunate he was wearing his ankle braces, when he sprained his ankle.— Sarah K. Spencer (@sarah_k_spence) April 22, 2021
"It feels a lot better. Still sore. Getting an MRI here in a little bit to see if there's anything more. A lot better than what it felt in the moment."
The next official release from the organization came at 5:00 pm ET on Thursday when the Hawks disclosed their injury report for Friday’s game against the Miami Heat, with Young unsurprisingly ruled out of action.
When the MRI was complete and the results were in on Thursday evening, word broke from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Young was diagnosed with a Grade 2 lateral sprain in his left ankle, with an encouraging overall prognosis.
An MRI revealed a Grade 2 lateral sprain on Atlanta All-Star guard Trae Young's left ankle, source tells ESPN. He's expected to be able to return to play once swelling and discomfort are gone. Best possible news after Wednesday night's injury at MSG.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 22, 2021
Later on Thursday evening, the Hawks provided an official update on Young. It confirms Wojnarowski’s reporting of a lateral left ankle sprain — though the team does not specifically mention “Grade 2” in the release — and Young will miss both Friday’s game and Sunday’s game, with status updated “as appropriate.”
Young’s exact return date remains unknown — with Wojnarowski’s description of the “best possible news” still feeling apt in this case — but injury expert Jeff Stotts shared that the average absence for a similar injury this season has been 18 days.
Re: Trae Young: The average missed time for Grade 2 lateral ankle sprains this season in the NBA has been 18 days (8 games).— Jeff Stotts (@InStreetClothes) April 22, 2021
The upcoming schedule for the Hawks is jam-packed, with the aforementioned matchups against the Heat (Apr. 23) and Bucks (Apr. 25), followed by games against the Detroit Pistons (Apr. 26) and Philadelphia 76ers (Apr. 28 and Apr. 30) in the next eight days. From there, Atlanta kicks off May with home games against the Chicago Bulls (May 1), Portland Trail Blazers (May 3) and Phoenix Suns (May 5).
Young has appeared in 54 of Atlanta’s 59 games this season, averaging 25.3 points per contest. He ranks third in the NBA in assists, averaging 9.3 per game, and Young maintains a 58.3 percent true shooting mark with 34.8 percent usage.
The third-year guard is the centerpiece of Atlanta’s offensive approach, operating as the team’s No. 1 shot creator, and his absence will be felt in a significant way for the duration of his injury absence. In Young’s stead, the Hawks will turn to Lou Williams and Brandon Goodwin at the point guard position, both of whom have been featured in the rotation in recent days. Overall, this is an overwhelmingly positive report, and the Hawks can now focus on staying afloat until Young returns to the floor.