The Rookie that took the city by storm.
The 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons didn’t leave Hawks fans much to look forward to. There was much to be desired at the Point Guard spot. Many thought that since Dennis Schroder was under contract for years, that he’d be our future point man.
Lets fast forward to early June when Trae Young came to town for his draft workout. Brand new Coach Lloyd Pierce broke a sweat and guarded Trae in the workouts.
At that point we should have known what was going to happen. For those who may not know, that is pretty much unheard of for a coach to be involved in a workout of that type.
Of course, we all know what happened later that month. Trae Young was traded to Atlanta in exchange Luka Doncic and (hopefully) a 2019 first round pick. We’ll know Tuesday if that pick will come our way this year.
Trae had a poor Summer League. That’s if you’re a novice NBA fan and only look at shooting percentages on Twitter and watch ESPN. But the real ones knew. Any player of that type is going to struggle shooting at various points. Also, his court awareness and passing abilities were already far advanced compared to his peers.
Some may say that Young didn’t start playing well until after the All-Star break, but I disagree. Yes the shooting numbers weren’t good, but even in Trae’s worst month he put up 14 and 8. That’s around where I predicted him to be for the year. And let’s be honest, 14 and 8 for a rookie would have still been good.
Another thing that hindered Trae early on was his passing perhaps being too good for his teammates. Often times they weren’t ready or could not handle his precision passes. Things would improve once John Collins returned to the lineup.
In fact, in that rough month of November Trae actually registered one of his better games of the season with a 24 Point 17 Assist outing against the Clippers.
Through it all, he did not let his confidence be shaken. Most rookies, hell even veterans would completely fall off their game while mired in a shooting slump that rough.
If you follow Trae Young’s Dad on Twitter (@rayfordyoung), then it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that the rook was able to handle the adversity so well. He was raised by a strong family who set him up for success.
Despite the Rookie of the Year race being called by NBA Twitter and ESPN in November, the South had something to say.
Being around the stars in Charlotte did something to Trae. After absolutely showing off in the Rookie / Sophomore game and beating that other rook from Dallas in the Rising Stars challenge, Young came back to Atlanta and proceeded to drop 36 on Detroit and Houston.
We’ve all seen the highlights from the 49 Point 16 Assist 4 OT showdown against the Bulls. This was really the moment where I realized that we really had our guy. I think that’s when Trae realized that this was his team and his city as well.
There wasn’t really much drop off from that magical week. In fact only the zebras could slow Trae down. After knocking down another three in Dunn’s face the next game, Trae gave him a nice little stare. It resulted in his second technical foul. It was a shame because he was starting to cook early in the third quarter.
24.7 PPG |4.7 RPG |9.2 APG | 3.4 TOG | 33 MPG | 34.8% 3PT
Those are some elite numbers. Who’s are they? Steph? Kyrie? Nope, that’s our very own Trae Young after the All-Star break. Not to mention, 2nd in the entire NBA in total assits as a rookie! They weren’t empty stats either. The team was actually decent after the 6-23 start.
Memories of our playoff runs came to mind each time I visited StateFarm Arena each game down the stretch of the season. The energy was back, the vibe was back. It was hard to remember that this was a 29 win team even.
The players even took notice to the atmosphere, constantly crediting the crowd for energizing the team.
While Trae Young probably won’t win Rookie of the Year, that shouldn’t take away from the season he had. He’s my Rookie of the Year by the way.
When compared to the rookie seasons of NBA stars such as Steph Curry, Steve Nash, Chris Paul and others, Trae comes out on top.
His numbers were also better than any Hawk Point Guard had put up in recent memory.
NBA players took notice to the season he had with many clamoring that Young was indeed the Rookie of the Year.
Rookie of the Year or not, we have a star on our hands and it’s time to get excited. No matter who we draft or add to the team via Free Agency, expect big things from the guard.
It may only be the second week of May, but Trae Young and several other Hawks players have already been spotted at the team’s practice facility a full five months before tip off. The culture and energy surrounding this team is incredible. It’s going to be a fun ride.
We’ve finally got our star, Atlanta and his name is Trae Young. Tomorrow is today.
All photos/videos were taken by me unless otherwise noted
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Phil Veasley | @_ATLPhil Twitter/IG | @ATLSportsHQ Twitter/IG