Atlanta Hawks: Trae Young looks to be a bright spot in 2018-19

NBA Atlanta Hawks Trae Young (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
NBA Atlanta Hawks Trae Young (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Trae Young is flashy and encompasses the modern NBA lead guard, and he’s everything that the Atlanta Hawks need heading into 2018-19

The Atlanta Hawks haven’t had much to celebrate for quite some time, the last time they stood victorious was 1958 and they are in desperate need for a legitimate star. They need a playmaker, a clutch performer and most importantly a leader.

Travis Schlenk, Atlanta’s general manager, recently drafted Trae Young out of the University of Oklahoma and if you watched him during his time as a Sooner, you know he will compete every time he steps on the hardwood.

Other than their second round playoff appearance in 2016, the last time Atlanta was relevant they were being led by players such as Joe Johnson and Al Horford. The Hawks looked like they might make a resurgence a few seasons ago with a crafty point guard in Dennis Schroder, but ups and downs between Schroder and the franchise caused him to get traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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The 2018 NBA Draft featured numerous big name players from the likes of Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III. Yet, the Hawks showed how much they believe in Trae Young by grabbing him early in the draft and even passed up on EuroLeague MVP in Luka Doncic. Many fans and critics believe Young can’t lead a rebuilding NBA team, but his stats and accolades at just age 20 may have something to say about that.

Trae Young attended Norman North High School in his home state of Oklahoma and his skills certainly showed at such a young age. Due to his long range barrage and timely finishing ability, he averaged over 42 points per game his senior season. He was then selected to the 2017 McDonald’s All-American game in 2017 alongside players such as Collin Sexton, Mo Bamba and Michael Porter Jr.

Young then decided to stay at home and attend the University of Oklahoma, where he would rep the maroon and white for the Sooners at the Lloyd Noble Center. He took the world by storm and shot his way into the Heisman conversation. He averaged more than 27 points and almost nine assists per games in 32 contests, and showed he can deliver from the free throw line all season as well. In just his freshman season he was the NCAA scoring leader, assists leader and first-team All-American.

The Sooners were regarded as one of the best teams in the Country but due to some unfortunate losses at the end of the year, they were ranked 10th in the March Madness Tournament against the University of Rhode Island. The Rams won the contest in thrilling fashion but Young still delivered with 28 points and 7 assists.

With all of the success and praise comes the doubt and questioning as well. Many say Trae Young is too small at just 180 lbs, turns the ball over too much or has bad shot selection in pivotal moments of the game. However, he’s clearly shown he has what it takes to lead a team to wins and has been put in a positive situation in Atlanta as the primary ball handler. Young is expected to lead the young Hawks team alongside players like Taurean Prince, John Collins and Alex Len.

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The playoffs may seem a long way away for the club but if they can land a big name player in next summer’s free agency, expect Atlanta to really challenge some of the better Eastern Conference teams. Young has mirrored his game after arguably the greatest shooter in history in Steph Curry, and with time and development he may become just as effective a player.

The Atlanta Hawks tip off their season on October 19th against the Memphis Grizzlies where Young will look to continue the success he’s had up to this point.