Hawks’ Onyeka Okongwu out until mid-March

Hawks’ Onyeka Okongwu out until mid-March

UPDATED on Tuesday, 2/27/24, at 5:43 p.m. Eastern: Onyeka Okongwu is now expected to out until mid-March. 

Already without starting center Clint Capela, who has missed the last five games since suffering a left adductor strain and isn’t expected back until later this month, Atlanta (24-30 straight up, 17-37 against the spread) will now be without third-year power forward Onyeka Okongwu for the next 7-10 days due to a left big toe strain.

Since Capela has been sidelined, Okongwu has taken full advantage of his increased minutes. In fact, he has scored in double figures in a career-high eight consecutive games.

In a 149-144 home loss to the Clippers, Okongwu had 18 points, five rebounds and one blocked shot on 8-of-10 shooting from the field.

Okongwu posted a double-double in a 125-117 spread-covering defeat at Boston, finishing with 19 points, 10 boards, two blocks and three assists compared to just one turnover. He knocked down 7-of-11 FGAs and made all four of his free-throw attempts.

In a 127-121 win at Philadelphia on Feb. 9, Okongwu produced 21 points, eight rebounds, two blocks, two assists and one steal. He buried 9-of-12 FGAs and drained both of his FTAs. The fourth-year player out of USC helped the Hawks win a 122-113 decision over Houston by contributing 11 points, seven boards and three blocked shots.

Then on Monday in a 136-126 setback at home vs. Chicago, Okongwu had 11 points, 12 rebounds and one block.

In 53 games this year, Okongwu is averaging 10.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.1 blocked shots per game. He’s made 61.0 percent of his FGAs and a career-high 80.0 percent of his free throws.

For the first time in his career, he’s also shooting 3-pointers. Coming into this season, Okongwu had attempted just 16 shots from 3-point range. He’s drained 22-of-65 launches from downtown (33.8%) this season.

According to Kevin Chouinard of Hawks.com, Capela is scheduled to return to practice when Atlanta returns from the All-Star break.

Going into Wednesday’s game at Charlotte, the Hawks held the Eastern Conference’s last spot in the play-in tournament. They’re in 10th place in the East, leading Brooklyn by 2.5 games.

Quin Snyder’s club is two games behind Chicago for ninth place and five games back of Orlando for the eighth slot.

As of this morning, most books had Atlanta installed as a seven-point road favorite at Charlotte. The total was 238 points, and the Hornets were +210 to +220 on the money line.

Bruno Fernando might move into Okongwu’s starting role tonight, or Snyder could go with a small-ball group consisting of Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Jalen Johnson and Saddiq Bey.

With the exception of Young, the other four players are at least 6-foot-5. Fernando has played in four of five games since Capela’s injury, averaging 7.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.0 BPG.

The ‘over’ has hit an 8-3 clip for the Hawks in their last 11 games, and tonight’s total is their lowest since a Jan. 24 loss at Golden St. They’ve seen the ‘over’ go 31-23 overall this season.