Atlanta Hawks pick up team options on Onyeka Okongwu, Jalen Johnson
Atlanta made a pair of moves on Tuesday that should come as no surprise. The Hawks picked up the fourth-year option on Onyeka Okongwu and the third-year option on Jalen Johnson, according to reports from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim Bontemps.
The Hawks drafted Okongwu with the No. 6 pick in the 2020 draft, but he hasn’t given them their return on investment yet. He’s only played 98 games through two seasons and has been the backup behind Clint Capela when he’s healthy. Still, he averaged 8.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game while shooting 69% from the floor last season. He’s shown flashes to be their center of the future, but he won’t get the opportunity as long as Capela is around.
Jalen Johnson was the 20th overall pick in the 2021 draft, and he spent most of his rookie year playing for the College Park Skyhawks. However, Atlanta is thinner at power forward with Danilo Gallinari gone, and head coach Nate McMillan has already said that Johnson will play a larger role this season. He averaged 2.4 points and 1.2 rebounds in just 5.5 minutes per game last season.
Atlanta has high expectations this season after acquiring Dejounte Murray over the summer. Locking up their young core for as long as possible will help keep their focus on contending for the next few seasons.