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.