Ice Trae: A playoff architect on the NBA hardwood

NBA Atlanta Hawks Trae Young (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)
NBA Atlanta Hawks Trae Young (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports) /

From scoring architect at the University of Oklahoma to playoff architect in Atlanta, Trae Young or ‘Ice Trae’  has architected the Hawks offense in the 2021 NBA Playoffs.

He’s not a building architect; Trae Young is an architect by the dribble.

Unlike the normalized architecture of basketball or hardwood stands a young man, 6-foot-1, with a game and skill-set more architected for 30-point performances than blueprints for the Empire State Building.

That building resides not far from Madison Square Garden in New York City, where Young, after a blistering 35-point playoff debut in Game 1 against the Knicks, validated his game to worldly doubters, many of which said he was too small or too short.

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Yet, despite hearing provocative noise from critics, Young, along with the Atlanta Hawks, have proved themselves worthy of, perhaps, a shot in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Young, a dominant scorer with tremendous passing and shooting ability, has averaged nearly 30-plus points per game since his June 2 outing against the Knicks, scoring virtually 40 with a 36-point feat to end the first-round series.

The Hawks, offensively, continue to dominate from beyond the perimeter, and when Ice Trae starts dribbling, going in and out, it becomes poetry in motion. However, even with Young’s ability to score floaters in the paint, along with his insane range of 3-point shooting, Atlanta still needs Clint Capela, John Collins, Solomon Hill, and Bogdan Bogdanovic to contribute more as the Philadelphia series heads to Game 5.

Just days before tonight’s game five battle in Philadelphia, the infamous Young had nursed an ailing shoulder in a bolstering 25-point, 18 assist recital in-game four at State Farm Arena. Young shot incredibly well, shooting 8-of-26 from the field, 3-of-11 from downtown, and 6-of-8 from the charity line. Ben Simmons, and the 76ers frontcourt, switched their defensive sets to counteract the Hawks’ 3-point threats.

Still, it didn’t hinder Young’s architecture of floaters and the way he found Capela, Bogdanovic, and Collins, who made exceptional plays down the stretch. During the second quarter, Atlanta trailed by 18 but recalibrated to win 103-100, tieing the series 2-2. Atlanta’s playoff success derives from an obvious coaching change, which was vital for the front office executives.

But, unfortunately, before head coach Nate McMillan’s arrival to the peach state, the Hawks could not architect themselves into a playoff-caliber squad.

Along with Ice Trae, Atlanta travels back to Philly tonight with hopes of architecting a big win at the Wells Fargo Center. If Young, Capela, Bogdanovic, and Collins play in synchronicity and limit marginal errors in a pivotal Game 5 paradox, the Hawks could draw a blueprint for an Eastern Conference Finals appearance.

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As the NBA playoffs move forward, it’s not about building architecture; it’s about being an architect by the ‘dribble.’