Hawks center Onyeka Okongwu underwent surgery in Los Angeles on Wednesday to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, the team announced in a press release.
According to the Hawks, Okongwu will enter a period of rest and rehabilitation and is expected to make a full recovery from the procedure in about six months. That means we likely won’t see him back on the court until at least mid-January, if not later.
The sixth overall pick in the 2020 draft, Okongwu initially wasn’t part of Atlanta’s regular rotation, but earned an increased role during the second half of the season and appeared in all 18 of the club’s postseason games. He averaged 4.6 PPG and 3.3 RPG on 64.4% shooting in 50 regular season contests (12.0 MPG), and earned praise from president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk for his improvement during the regular season and playoffs.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Okongwu’s shoulder issue began to bother him in May and the club eventually determined surgery was necessary in order to address the big man’s lingering discomfort.
It’s a tough blow for the Hawks, who may now be in the market for additional frontcourt help this offseason, since Okongwu had been set to enter the 2021/22 season as Clint Capela‘s primary backup at center. If Atlanta isn’t confident in Bruno Fernando‘s ability to fill that role with Okongwu out, the team figures to add another center via trade or free agency.
18 thoughts on “Hawks’ Okongwu Out Six Months Following Shoulder Surgery”
Man we can’t catch a break with these injuries smh. Definitely don’t have faith in Bruno to hold it down til O gets back. This makes Charles Bassey even more attractive at #20 in next week’s draft tbh. Grabbing hometown hero Dwight Howard might be a good move too. Sucks that O will miss training camp & have to start the season injured for both of the 1st 2 seasons of his career. Hopefully he comes back healthy in February tho, he’s a big part of our future
Bringing Dwight back wouldn’t be a bad idea. Especially after watching Lopez be so physical and dominate the paint in the ECF.
To be fair Brook was only dominant in 1 of the 6 ECF gms vs ATL. He scored about 10 pts/gm in the other 5gms. But Dwight or a guy like Whiteside would give us a lil more size to deal with the bigger 5s. I’d definitely prefer we draft a guy like Charles Bassey tho. Bassey can play & even as a rookie I think he’d be a better option & a better fit than pretty much any available vet big
Lopez aside, the Hawks struggled covering Randle in the regular season and Embiid in the playoffs. Even Howard pushed us around in the playoffs.
Randle did big #s in the regular season but we completely locked him down in the playoffs which is a much better barometer tbh. Embiid kills literally everyone, he’s probably the best basketball player in the world rn tbh. As for Dwight I love the guy but Okongwu pretty much outplayed Dwight in that series & O was a rookie. Tbh the biggest thing that would help ATL improve our paint defense would be if we could trade Gallo. Pretty much whoever takes his minutes would be a better defender than him
Man that’s disappointing. I was really looking forward to seeing him in summer league, and into his year 2. Was one of my favorite guys coming into his draft. Reminds me of Bam
He compared himself to Bam coming into the league & I definitely see the similarities as far as being from African families, both being undersized but extremely athletic & skilled 5s that were blue chip prospects from an early age & left college after 1 dominant season. Main difference to me is the fact that Bam was basically handed the starting job & heavy pt much earlier than O. O won’t be an all-star as soon as Bam was bc he won’t have the same opportunities but even with his injury troubles I think he’ll have a very successful career
Skillset wise, they have a lot of similarities. Okongwu defensively is capable of a lot of the same things, and if you saw video on him before he was drafted, he has playmaking potential as a guy that can put the ball on the floor, though maybe not as good as Bam in that area. They can use him to run some offense off dribble handoffs, which I think would be a deadly weapon with Trae Young, Bogdanovic, and Huerter…
Bam actually was off the bench his first 1.5 years, but he did get a lot of playing time as you mentioned, especially in 4th quarters. That’s b/c Capela is more similar to Okongwu, than a guy like Whiteside, who is totally different, so a lot of Okongwu’s opportunities are harder to come by
Lol I saw more than just video of him before he was drafted, I saw a lot of USC’s games during his freshman yr & even a few of his games at Chino Hills. I def don’t see much playmaking ability in O’s game, def not to the level of Bam. But I do see potential for O to be a gifted/efficient scorer. He has potential to eventually knock down 15ft js & maybe even 3pt range at some point, along with having pretty good hands & footwork & elite athleticism for his size. O def has potential to eventually do more offensively than Clint (& Clint does alot offensively himself). I don’t see him as nearly the ball handler or decision maker that Bam is tho… Bam got 30starts & 20mins/gm as a rookie. Thats more pt than O will even get in his 2nd season. Bam was the starting 5 halfway into his 2nd season in Mia. O probably won’t be a starter in ATL until at least his 4th season. It’s just the situation he was drafted into. I think it’s moreso just that Clint is just better than Whiteside was. Bam was able to outplay the inconsistent Whiteside but unless O quickly becomes 1 of the top 3 bigs in the world he’s not gonna outplay Clint, which is totally ok. It’ll probably keep him from being an all-star as quick as Bam was but it may help his longevity
Bam is best at the 4, like many 5s, and as a maxish player, should have his preference, for Miami to get its major investment’s worth. But my voice is not heard there.
Speaking of Bam, Kentucky has a center prospect that could go around #20 according to Vecenie, that sounds similar. Can get up high, quickly & often. I have not heard from one of our Southerners about him, or illowa.
Smh… Bam is CLEARLY best at the 5. He’s played the 5 throughout his entire career including every game at UK & every game for the Heat. Your voice is heard but it is extremely wrong lol. He’s great at guarding other 5s & that alone is reason enough for him to be a 5. Skilled bigs that can effectively guard other 5s off the top make their teams much better when they’re at the 5 bc that allows their team to put another skilled guy on the court instead of a another big. Look at Charlotte for instance. If PJ Washington could play the 5 Charlotte would be a MUCH better team bc Cody Zeller or Biyombo wouldn’t have to be on the floor. Bam at the 4 playing alongside another big would make him much less special as a basketball player
Not that it matters, but PJ Washington can play the 5…also, depending on the rest of the lineup, and more specifically the matchup against certain teams, Bam paired well with a floor spacing big like Olynyk at times, although Olynyk was good defensively for the Heat at the 5, and they usually had good defenders around them in those lineups. That being said, ya Bam is a 5, in general, and you would generally limit the minutes he might get next to another big like that, and base it on matchup. Also, even still, Olynyk was also better as the 5, next to other versatile defenders, in 1 big lineups
“You must have missed” the start of Miami’s season in 2019 when Leonard was the 5 and Adebayo had the freedom to ramble. Leonard was a post-up player, albeit at the 3-line. That arrangement was how how the Heat got off to such a fast start. Then Bam got sent low to be a totem pole to block shots.
Bas.Ref. shows Bam at the 4 57% of the time, Leonard a 5 100% of the time, but he dropped out after starting 49 games. (Probably you want to forget Leonard existed.) In what seemed like the next season after the covid delay, Bam was a 5 in the bubble as Miami made room for all their wing players, and won with them. But they were less key than Bam in the beginning, who was mostly known for potential at the start. Olynyk was a backup but played similar minutes.
So that’s me and Bas.Ref outvoting Sankara! formerlyz in the middle. Yes it was a 4-5 pairing in effect.
Isaiah Jackson is gonna be a really nice young NBA player. He’s not from the south tho, I think he’s from Detroit tbh. He’s actually more similar to Okongwu than Bam to me but all 3 have similarities. I would definitely rather have Charles Bassey over Isaiah Jackson but I’d be happy with Jackson no doubt
i would take bassey over jackson and i don’t even like bassey, i have him going in the middle of the 2nd, but i’m always wrong.
He did call Jackson a riser, so it must be from his workouts. Pretty raw.
It seems like I saw more patty-cake with the ball near the rim this year, (which he would be good at), instead of dominating rebounders gobbling the ball up. However “running” centers usually disappoint… or at least they did Don Nelson at GSW.
yes. AND i still love me some don nelson right here out of the great quad cities. legendary.
I saw him a few times and what a fun young player to have. I hope the kid has a flawless recovery.