Hawks lottery pick Onyeka Okongwu out for 6 months due to shoulder surgery

Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images
Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images /

Atlanta Hawks big man Onyeka Okongwu will be out for approximately six months.

The Atlanta Hawks‘ frontcourt depth chart was dealt a significant blow Wednesday evening, as it was reported that lottery pick Onyeka Okongwu will be out for approximately six months.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Okongwu has undergone surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Okongwu, the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, was dealing with this nagging injury during the Hawks’ run to the Eastern Conference Finals starting in May, which necessitated this procedure.

Hawks’ Onyeka Okongwu out for about six months

In his rookie season in Atlanta, Okongwu saw his role behind Clint Capela off the bench increase as the season wore on. In 50 appearances, he finished the year averaging 4.6 points and 3.3 rebounds in just 12.0 minutes per game while shooting 64.4 percent from the floor.

During 18 playoff games with the Hawks, the 20-year-old big man out of USC averaged 2.7 points and 2.7 rebounds in 9.2 minutes per game on 54.8 percent shooting.

While the raw numbers aren’t overly impressive, Okongwu showed plenty of potential backing up Capela and has a bright future in this league. With John Collins being a restricted free agent and Bruno Fernando being, well, Bruno Fernando, the Hawks could use some extra help on the interior.

If Okongwu misses six months, that would put his return timeline around late January. The upcoming 2021-22 NBA season is scheduled to start on Oct. 19, with the playoffs beginning in April. That means Okongwu should be expected to miss roughly half the season, given his current timeline.

Here’s hoping Okongwu makes a speedy recovery without any setbacks for a young Hawks team on the rise.

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