Back on June 21, 2018, Hawks General Manager Travis Schlenk made a trade that shocked the NBA world. With Luka Doncic sitting on the board at 3rd overall, the Hawks decided to pass on the youngest ever Euro League MVP and ultimately dealt his draft rights to the Dallas Mavericks for a top 5 protected first round pick in this year’s draft and the rights Trae Young.
Many already called it a landslide victory for Dallas without either player playing a game. It got to the point where writers and NBA fans were almost rooting for Trae Young to fail just so they could prove themselves right.
The Trae Young hate hasn’t completely vanished despite his stellar play this season, and the Luka Doncic hype has only grown (and deservedly so). Both of these players will be great, but the national media continues to spin it the other way by continuously talking about all of Doncic’s good moments and Trae Young’s bad. Even when Trae does good (which he has been playing great for the last 2 months) you see the media tweet things like this.
No contest. 💯 pic.twitter.com/FPNcETD7Zr
— theScore (@theScore) January 14, 2019
Trae Young was the most popular player in college basketball and in last year’s draft. He was the focal point of every team’s defensive gameplan in college and it is the same thing in the NBA. If you go take a look at the Raptors game early this month, Trae Young had a good game but not a great one, but with the Hawks down one going for the win, who was guarding Young? Kawhi Leonard, arguably the best defender in the NBA.
Young drove fearlessly to the rim on Kawhi. That type of confidence is what the Hawks need in their young point guard. He may have not made the shot, but it is a learning moment that will make Trae the great player that he seems destined to become and why he is already respected as such by NBA defenses.
Away from all of that, there is this notion that Trae Young is having a terrible season. That just is not true. He had a terrible month of November shooting the ball(19.8% from 3) but at the same time led all rookies in assists for that month with 8.1 a game. Like we said in our player preview for Trae, the media will force you to look at the nights where he struggles from the field rather than looking at his impressive numbers in the assists column.
Trae has really hit his stride since the month of December. He is catching on to the NBA speed and his shot selection has improved. I wouldn’t call Trae a pass first point guard because he is at his best when he is aggressive, but he knows exactly when to make the right pass. He is a pick and roll magician and can get it to the roll man even when there seems to be no passing lane. If you’re open on the perimeter, Trae will find you, just be ready to shoot.
Kevin Huerter's ability to reel in any pass and still fire off a three is a thing of beauty. pic.twitter.com/ziSGWg09mv
— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) January 16, 2019
Omari oop. pic.twitter.com/Il056YcyZc
— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) January 16, 2019
Luka and Trae are marketing dreams and are already up there in terms of popularity. Deandre Ayton over in Phoenix is putting up some really good numbers but the national media rarely shows his highlights or stat lines. Marvin Bagley is the forgotten number two overall pick in Sacramento who is quietly improving as the season goes on. The difference between all of them is that Trae Young will always be regarded in direct opposition to Doncic and any sort of struggle from Trae is fuel for media’s glamoration of Luka.
When Trae Young did this step back on Giannis Antetokounmpo, the national media acted like it never happened. Not one single replay on SportsCenter or tweet by Bleacher Report or ESPN.
Oh My Trae Young, Giannis tem família brother pic.twitter.com/vUybwMV8aH
— No Hype Brasil (@nohypebrasil) January 14, 2019
It is all okay though. The only that matters is that Trae is not letting any of it get to him. He keeps putting in the work at practice and after games. The noise isn’t getting to him as his 16ppg 3.1rpg 7.2apg stat-line, is one we have only seen 5 other players in NBA hisotry put up in their rookie seasons: Damon Stoudamire, Allen Iverson, John Wall, Chris Paul, and Magic Johnson. Trae is also putting up those numbers in 29.6 minutes per a game.
Any other season, those are runaway Rookie of the Year numbers. Not this season as Luka Doncic is having a historic rookie campaign. People actually view him as a bust, because he is not matching Luka’s numbers. People only remember Trae’s 3 point % for the season being at 24% but turn their heads the other way when you mention how is shooting 37% from deep since that rough November stretch. People forget that this is the same rookie that has already put games with 35&11 and 25&17 and is creeping up on the NBA record for 20-point 10-assist games for a rookie.
The city of Atlanta knows what they have in Trae Young. A rising star that makes the whole team better. Trae is rookie, but his ability to set his teammates up for the best possible shot is that of a 10 year vet. Trae takes pride in going up against the best of the best and after his bad games, he learns from them and then drops a crazy stat line the next game.
The scary thing for the NBA is that Trae will get better. His shooting is already making big strides. He’s getting more crafty with his passes. Oh, and the Hawks are poised to add 2 more lottery picks beside him in this year’s draft headlined by RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson.
The future is bright for the Hawks. They have their core in place. They have the right coach, Lloyd Pierce, in place. They now have their star of the future in place. The backbone of it all is Trae Young. His ability to make everyone better will draw free agents and make Atlanta a force in the NBA.
Trae Young has no interest in following the path of others, he wants to create his own. He wants to lead the Hawks where it has never gone since they moved to Atlanta. The NBA Finals.
By: Bret Anderson