Trae Young has been one of the NBA’s more durable superstars this season. He has missed only five games, but the brutal nature of this condensed season may have just caught up to him. During the third quarter of Atlanta Hawks’ game against the New York Knicks, Young suffered what the team has described as a left ankle sprain and was ruled out of the remainder of the game shortly thereafter. The team said Young’s X-rays on his ankle came back clean, and on Thursday, the results of an MRI were encouraging.
The Hawks star has a Grade 2 lateral sprain to his ankle, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, and will be able to return once swelling and discomfort go down. Considering the pain Young appeared to be in, the Hawks couldn’t have asked for better news.
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Young went up for a floater but may have landed on the back of Norvel Pelle’s foot. He immediately crumpled to the floor and needed to be helped off of the court by teammates, though he did appear able to put at least a little bit of weight on the foot.
After the game, Hawks big man Clint Capela, said Young was in good spirits after the injury.
“He was OK. He told me it wasn’t as bad as he thought, so he was pretty good,” Capela said.
Young recently missed two games with a left calf injury. Whether that injury played any part in this one is unknowable, but Young has otherwise remained healthy throughout the season. In the process, he has averaged 25.4 points and 9.5 assists per game to help lead the resurgent Hawks back into playoff contention. Entering Wednesday, Atlanta had sole control of the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.
“He’s probably our No. 1 option. He’s a guy who creates a lot for this team,” coach Nate McMillan said. “You will be missing a big part of the team with the things — he’s averaging 34, 35 minutes [a game]. He’s got [near] a double-double in scoring and assists. He does a lot of creating and scoring for us. You will be missing a big part of who we are.”
The Hawks are 6.9 points per 100 possessions better with Young on the floor this season and with all of the other injuries they are fighting through, losing their best player would be a devastating blow. Atlanta will now be more reliant on backup ball-handlers Bogdan Bogdanovic and Lou Williams than ever, and if the Hawks can’t stay healthy down the stretch, they won’t have much of a chance to make noise in the postseason. Fortunately, Young should be back in the fold soon.