Even when Trae Young came down awkwardly on his right ankle in the Hawks’ loss to Miami on Tuesday, and stayed down, coach Lloyd Pierce wasn’t panicking as much as you might think.
Young (6-foot-1, 180 pounds), who’s certainly on the smaller side for the NBA, had previously been able to avoid injury, despite how much contact he draws.
“He’s such a durable guy,” Pierce said. “He didn’t have any injuries last year, I don’t think. Nothing that sat him out. … I don’t even know if he had an injury that caused him to come out of a game for a couple plays. That’s tough, for a guy that gets hit, smacked.”
As serious as the injury looked initially, with Young visibly in pain after the awkward way his ankle rolled, he came away with a right ankle sprain and has already made progress toward recovery. But he’s ruled out for Thursday’s game against the Heat at State Farm Arena.
During shootaround Thursday morning, Young had his ankle wrapped but was walking around fine (he was seen using crutches after Tuesday’s loss). Pierce said the swelling has begun to go down, and Young is able to do toe raises — at this point, it’s just a matter of when Young can jump and run without pain. He’ll be re-evaluated by the Hawks’ medical staff next week.
Fortunately, the Hawks have a few days in between Thursday’s game and hosting the Spurs on Tuesday, or else Pierce expects Young would be insisting he could play already.
“When he was down, I wasn’t really concerned, I just thought he was going to be down and pop back up,” Pierce said. “I never really thought it was going to be serious because I just trust the little guy and his durability. But I’m glad that it is nothing serious and it’s just a sprain. Now we’re going to be fighting him. ... Luckily we have days off because if we were playing tomorrow, I’m sure he’d be ready to go, in his mind.”
With Young out, expect a point-guard-by-committee approach from the Hawks, who called up Brandon Goodwin from the College Park Skyhawks to bolster their backcourt.
Rookie Cam Reddish (who has been sound on defense but has struggled to score, averaging 4.3 points in the Hawks’ first four games), Kevin Huerter (who is coming back from right knee issues), DeAndre’ Bembry and Tyrone Wallace will share responsibilities handling the ball for Atlanta.
With Young out and with the lack of discipline the Hawks showed in the loss to the Heat, particularly when it came to fouling 3-point shooters, Pierce decided to transform Thursday’s morning’s shootaround into a full-fledged practice.
“I think we had a good thing going, Trae gets hurt, we scrambled,” Pierce said. “We had to really practice to figure out how to play without Trae, which is different. We need ball movement, we’ve got to do the point-guard-by-committee thing. We needed work, and we needed it at game speed. We can’t just walk through some of those things.”
Even though the team is eager for Young’s return, Huerter said, the Hawks are confident in who will step up in his absence.
“That’s definitely what it’s going to be (Thursday), handle by committee,” Huerter said. “We may not have a true point guard in the game, and so it’s definitely going to be an adjustment for us. But hopefully a lot of different guys can get going. I think it’s an opportunity for a lot of guys to maybe get off their feet, get the season going and try to get themselves going offensively. We’re going to miss him, but we still think we have a lot of guys who can put the ball in the basket.”
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