The Hawks say Dewayne Dedmon will be out least three weeks, and as many as six, with a leg injury. That’s at least 11 games, and as many as 20, that the Hawks will be without their best frontcourt player.
The Hawks have remained reasonably competitive (minus-6 average point differential) despite significant injuries early in the season. But I think Dedmon’s injury might be the one that finally downgrades them from not good to just plain bad.
(And if you are on Team Tank, Dedmon’s injury is a downer because his solid play in an bigger role likely was creating some trade value. Now, he will have less time to show what he can do before the deadline.)
Dedmon has been good for the Hawks in his first NBA season as a full-time starter: efficient scorer, good rebounder, effective defender. I’m not saying he’d be a starter for a good team, but he’s a solid player and the Hawks aren’t good enough to easily absorb his loss.
Dedmon is the only Hawks big man who is both an effective NBA rotation player and playing well this season. The rest are either one or the other.
John Collins is playing well but he’s a rookie who is prone to foul trouble (more on that later).
Luke Babbitt has been pretty good but last year with the Heat was the first time he played more than 845 minutes.
Ersan Ilyasova has been an effective NBA player for a long time but hasn’t played well this season even when healthy.
Tyler Cavanaugh has been pretty good but he’s a rookie who started off the season in the G-League.
Miles Plumlee has played just nine minutes this season and is coming off a career-worst year.
Those five players will make up the power rotation until Dedmon returns to the lineup.
“You start John and Luke and then you have Ersan, Cavanaugh and Miles to back them up,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We feel really good and comfortable with Tyler. There is some depth.”
Budenholzer said Collins will remain in the starting lineup with Babbitt back in the fold. That’s a silver lining to Dedmon’s injury. The Hawks were going to lose a lot of games with or without Dedmon and now Collins gets a chance to show what he can do playing starters’ minutes for a month or more.
Or at least that’s what will happen if Collins can stay on the court. He’s averaging 5.8 fouls per 36 minutes played, and the majority of those minutes came against backup bigs. Now Collins will spend most of his time tangling with starter-quality centers almost every night, and most of them have a size advantage against him.
“Going against starter guys, they kind of have a different mentality,” Collins said. “It’s something to get used to but it’s all part of my development. If I want to be the player I want I’ve got to lock in and play the best I can.”
Collins has been a good rookie from the moment he checked in for his first game in Dallas. I can’t think of any downside to him playing more minutes against starters. I don’t get the sense that his confidence will suffer from when he is inevitably over-matched by bigger, better and older centers. And already some of those centers have had their hands full with the energetic, springy rookie.
Collins said Dedmon’s injury “puts a lot of pressure on all of us (bigs) to pick up the slack.” He said Bundeholzer hasn’t given him any special instructions now that he will be the starter for a long stretch of the season.
“Doing the same thing I’ve been doing now,” Collins said. “He’s given me the trust to (be) in the starting lineup so I’ve been trying to respect that and playing the way I’ve been playing. Just playing with a lot of heart, a lot of energy, a lot of athleticism. Use my athleticism on the offensive and defensive end and be very active.”
- Hawks: Schroder, a defensive liability, says he wants to be better
- NBA draft lottery watch: Bulls still lead but Hawks gain ground
- Hawks: John Collins’ ‘efficiency, production among best ever for rookies
- As Hawks rebuild, Budenholzer shows he will rely on young players
- Ten observations from Hawks loss at Spurs
- Hawks making threes, so why are they not better offensively?
- Ten observations from Hawks loss to Celtics
- NBA rookie ratings: How does Hawks’ John Collins stack up?
- Ten observations from Hawks victory over Kings
- NBA draft lottery watch: Hawks still lead race for top odds
- As Ilyasova nears return, should he start for Hawks over Babbitt?
- Ten observations from Hawks loss at Pelicans
- Schroder is best Hawks player, but is he getting better?
- Ten observations from Hawks loss at Wizards
- WATCH: Hawks rookie John Collins on his latest learning experience
- Ten observations from Hawks loss at Pistons
- Hawks: Mixed results for Bazemore with increased offensive role
- Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon taking, making outside shots
- NBA draft lottery watch: Victory at Cavs doesn’t cost Hawks in race for top pick
- Ten observations from Hawks victory at Cavs
- As Hawks losses pile up, Budenholzer says ‘I don’t worry about it being accepted’
- WATCH: Kent Bazemore on James Harden: ‘I learned a lot playing against him’
- Ten observations from Hawks loss to Rockets
- Hawks have many issues but 3-point defense near the top
- Ten observations from Hawks loss at Sixers
- Is center really the best fit for Hawks rookie John Collins?
- Hawks opponents are off and running
- Ten observations from Hawks loss to Bucks
- WATCH: Bazemore on Hawks: ‘We are fighting. We’ve got to learn how to win games.’
- Ten observations from Hawks loss to Nuggets
- Ten observations from Hawks loss at Bulls
- NBA draft lottery watch: Hawks move up (down) in projected standings
- WATCH: Hawks coach Budenholzer on rookie John Collins’ role
- New Hawks practice facility sparkles but will it really attract free agents?
- John Collins might be most productive rookie so far
- Hawks already facing ‘tough year’ of playing hard but losing
- Ten observations from Hawks loss at Heat
- Ten observations from Hawks loss at Nets
- WATCH: Hawks rookie John Collins on first game vs. Dwight Howard
- Ten observations from Hawks loss at Hornets
- WATCH: Dwight Howard says ‘stupid’ to believe reports he was negative influence on Hawks
- Dennis Schroder puts on a good show for new-look Hawks
- Marco Belinelli ‘still not 100 percent’ but shows he can help Hawks
- WATCH: Hawks guard Josh Magette makes NBA debut at age 27
- Ten observations from Hawks victory at Mavs