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Hawks, Trae Young, John Collins

NBA

Hawks will need Trae Young even more in wake of John Collins’ 25-game suspension

Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins just received a 25-game suspension for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy, which leaves the returning Trae Young with even more pressure to carry the load.

Collins’ suspension was based on a positive test for Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide-2. His term will begin Tuesday night when the Hawks take on the San Antonio Spurs, and will continue until he returns on Dec. 23 against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He is working to appeal the suspension, according to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski:

“First I want to apologize to my teammates, the Hawks organization, our fans, partners and community as a whole for this situation,” Collins wrote in an official statement. “I understand the impact this matter has on what we are trying to achieve together this season, and I am incredibly in arbitration so I can get back on the court as soon as possible and continue to contribute to our 2019-20 campaign.”

Young, on the other hand, is returning to the lineup after missing just one full game (plus a large chunk of another) due to a right ankle injury that looked must worse than it was. The former Oklahoma standout is off to a great start this season, but with Collins now sidelined, he’ll be asked to carry even more of an offensive load:

In his four appearances with the Hawks this season, Young has racked up averages of 26.8 points on 50.7 percent shooting from the field (50.0 percent from beyond the arc), 7.3 assists, 5.0 rebounds and a steal in 29.8 minutes per outing.

Some thought Young’s ankle injury was more severe than it actually turned out to be. He made light of his speedy recovery, but gave credit to the Hawks’ VP of Athletic Performance and Sports Medicine, Chelsea Lane:

“If you ask her, she thinks I have, like, Wolverine blood… she doesn’t understand how I healed up so fast,” Young said of Lane, via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The way it looked, when it first happened to now, it’s kind of crazy. But I was giving her props, too, because she deserves it all.

“It feels great,” Young added, referring to his ankle. “This is probably the hardest I’ve worked as far as a small time period, and needing to listen, to do everything I could to be able to get back. If anybody knows me, (they know) I hate missing games. I hate not being able to play. So I was trying to do everything I could to be able to get back.”

The fact that Young is returning to the lineup for Atlanta so quickly is great news, as he’s the team’s No. 1 option on the offensive end of the floor. Whether or not he’ll be placed on a minutes restriction remains to be seen. The Hawks shouldn’t want to push him too much coming off this injury, even with a prolific running mate like Collins sidelined. The big man is averaging 17.0 points and 8.8 rebounds on the season, so hopefully other guys like Jabari Parker can help Young out.

Tuesday night’s matchup between the Hawks and Spurs is set to tip inside State Farm Arena at 7:30 p.m. ET.