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Discussion in 'The Mainboard' started by Gaknight, Apr 8, 2015.
This just makes JC's suspension hurt that much more.
Finish November anywhere close to .500 and we are in the playoffs
Collins sacrificed himself to give this team his energy.
Most shocking thing is we are currently a top 10 defense with Trae Young and 2 rookies.
Trae and John were pretty poor defensively last year but you can tell are working hard on that end. Throw Len in there too.
Aldridge took advantage of Bruno last night but he will be fine.
Reddish, Hunter, Huerter and Bembry all flat get after it on D. We will be a tough out as they grow
Len is pretty brutal on the starting unit.
Chicago went right at him tonight
Lloyd was funny after the game. Pretty much said everyone sucked equally.
Trae is amazing. I love him so much.
Nice little 40* point game
Huerter and Hunter were solid, almost wish velvet would shoot it more. len helped us too
allothersnsused Fran Tarkenton
its going to be long as hell, sorry.
“He’s Trae f—ing Young”: An inside look at the Atlanta Hawks star’s rise and why he won’t forget your disrespect
Sam Amick 2h ago 6
PHOENIX – Trae Young made this interview easy.
It’s an off day in the Valley of the Sun, where the Atlanta Hawks’ polarizing and popular point guard is just hours removed from one of the most prolific nights of his young career. Yet as if the 42-point, 11-assist, eight-3-pointer masterpiece in a road win against Denver wasn’t hot enough on its own – did you see what he did to Will Barton? – he set flames to the social media scene afterward with a fire tweet that belongs on a t-shirt or a promotional poster.
“YOUR APOLOGY NEEDS TO BE AS LOUD AS THE DISRESPECT WAS,” his message read above a picture of Young running the floor against the Nuggets.
Topic No. 1 in this conversation with one of the NBA’s best young showmen has been served up like one of his fancy dishes. The goal from here is to not get nutmegged.
As the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Young gets off the team bus and makes his way into the lobby at the downtown Phoenix hotel, we say hello and make our way onto the elevator when a hoops fan who joined us added a bit of perspective right at the start. If you didn’t know who he was, he’d easily pass for one of the kids out front who’s waiting for, well, him. Even with the 11 pounds of muscle he added last summer.
“Hey Trae, is your Dad younger than Vince Carter?” the man asks.
Trae – who is teammates with the 42-year-old Carter and whose father, former Texas Tech basketball player Rayford Young, is in his late 30s – shrugs.
“Yeah, he is.”
In case anyone forgot while watching his highlight reel grow thicker by the game, or perhaps noticing that he is averaging 27.3 points and 9.1 assists per game for this plucky Hawks team (4-7) that has such a bright future, Trae really is Young – 21 years old, as of last month. And…cue the Luka Doncic crowd that will instantly remind you that the Dallas Mavericks star with whom Young’s career will be forever intertwined is even younger.
Which brings us back to the tweet from the night before.
If you untangle the disrespect that Young referenced via Twitter in all caps, it will always trace back to the Hawks’ decision to trade the No. 3 pick (which became Doncic) to Dallas for No. 5 (Young) and a 2019 first-rounder (Cam Reddish, taken 10th overall out of Duke) on draft night two Junes ago. The conversation about whether he might be a bust was always going to be there, but it went next level last season because Doncic boomed out of the rookie gates and Young struggled in those opening months. The Hawks had seriously debated the prospect of taking Doncic, to be sure, but the combination of their belief in Young and the chance to land another lottery pick was too much for general manager Travis Schlenk & Co. to pass up.
Then came those early months, with Doncic dominating and Young struggling to find his footing on the NBA stage while taking note of all the criticism that came his way. As he had done even before going pro, Young would make a point to take cell phone screenshots of the people who doubted him during his down times.
Young shared this habit in a previous interview, but his openness on this front – not to mention the post-Nuggets game tweet that was sent with that same salty spirit – seemed like an invitation to take this particular angle a step further. And so, as we sat on those couches of the second-floor lounge and began to chat, I pulled out my phone to perform a real-time simulation of this motivational exercise and get a better sense of Young’s Mighty Mouse mentality.
After typing in ‘Trae Young’ and ‘bust’ on the old Google machine earlier in the day and saving a few screenshots of my own as fuel for his fascinating fire, we begin with this bit of bulletin board show-and-tell…
“I bet there was a lot,” he says when told of the chosen search engine words.
A quote from radio man Ryen Russilo, formerly of ESPN and currently with The Ringer, from mid-February of 2018: “Trae Young reminds me a lot of Jimmer (Fredette, the BYU sensation who started in seven NBA games over seven seasons and currently plays in China).
Young stares at the screen.
“Oh yeah, he’s one of them,” he said with a smile. “Yeah, I’ve got a whole lot of those.”
Doug Gottlieb, the Fox Sports Radio host and former Oklahoma State point guard who once said, “Whoever drafts Trae Young in the lottery is going to lose their job over it. Is that the hill you want to die on?” (A relevant sidenote: Schlenk, who was part of Golden State’s front office team that drafted Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green before signing Kevin Durant en route to the Warriors dynasty and came to Atlanta in May 2017, received a multi-year extension and a promotion to general manager and president in August)
An anonymous scout who told Sports Illustrated that he “wouldn’t touch” Young in the draft.
“Yeah…” Young said while staring at the screen.
A December 2018 story in The New Yorker that was born out of a painful premise: The author who is also a self-described Hawks fan, Charles Bethea, interviewed his favorite franchise’s biggest bust, Jon Koncak, about Young’s early struggles and the question of whether Atlanta should have drafted Doncic. Koncak, who was taken with the fifth overall pick in 1985 and nicknamed “Jon Contract” because “his large salary was an albatross,” was taken ahead of Hall of Famers Karl Malone and Chris Mullin.
This story is clearly new to Young, and he has clearly never heard of Koncak, but his reaction remains unchanged. He’s still smiling, and then explaining.
“Yeah, it’s little stuff like that,” he says. “I have pictures and stuff like that. Old tweets. Old different sayings and quotes from people who said things when I was coming into the draft, coming into college too. It’s stuff I just keep it in my mind. Some of it is mental notes, but at the same time some of it is stuff that I keep and I have my eye on. …But I think that type of stuff motivates you.”
The part that was not known, and that says so much about the way Young is wired, is that he has gone to even greater lengths than previously realized to save all this material: He keeps all of the screenshots on an old phone that isn’t even attached to an actual line.
“I’ve probably changed my phone twice, but I still have that same phone with all my pictures and all that stuff,” he continues. “I’ll always have that phone, until I’m retired. And then, when I’m retired, I’ll go to the ocean somewhere and throw it in the water.”
Yet there was a time not so long ago when even that shot might have seemed hard for him to hit.
Looking back now, Young believes that he was too passive early on last season. The Hawks had added veteran point guard Jeremy Lin not long after drafting Young, doing a deal with Brooklyn to give them experience off the bench and someone who could serve as a mentor of sorts for Young.
But all this newness – the NBA at large, a defensive-minded, first-year coach in Lloyd Pierce who preached the sorts of principles that Young wasn’t exactly known for, and a new lane to fill that felt far different from his days as a sensation at Oklahoma – left him out of sorts.
“Yeah for me, early on it was more about I didn’t know what my role was going to be,” he said. “Obviously I knew I was going to play a lot of minutes. I was going to be the starting point guard. But at the same time, I played with Jeremy Lin, who was one of our vets on our team at the time who was playing really well, and I was just trying to fit in.
“It was more just me trying to figure out how to find a way to fit into the team and the league instead of trying to make my name. I think that was the main thing. I wasn’t necessarily trying to take the league by storm. It was more trying to find my way to fit in early on. Maybe that’s the wrong approach I should’ve had. It’s definitely the wrong approach. I definitely wish I would’ve handled it differently, or attacked it more, but it didn’t happen and I had to learn.”
So the hard way, it was.
While Dallas was off to a 15-11 start and Doncic was, well, taking the league by storm, Young couldn’t seem to find his game. There were those rare dynamic nights at the office – 35 and 11 just three games in against Cleveland; 24 and 15 against Miami nine games in; 20 and 12 against the Lakers four games later; 25 and 17 against the Clippers four games after that. But all in all, Young wasn’t finding the net nearly enough for his or the Hawks’ liking.
Trae Young (left) talks with Mavericks guard Luka Doncic following a game in October 2018. (Austin McAfee / Getty Images)
Through 47 games in his rookie campaign (Jan. 23), Young was shooting just 39.5 percent overall (on 14 attempts per game) and 28.5 percent from beyond the arc (5.2 attempts) while averaging 15.9 points, 7.3 assists, 3.2 rebounds, and 4.1 turnovers as the Hawks had gone 15-32. And even that was after his midseason uptick.
In one particularly brutal 16-game stretch from Nov. 7 to Dec. 8, Young shot just 32.9 percent overall, 21 percent from 3, and averaged just 13.2 points per game while posting an individual net rating that was nearly the worst on the team. The turnaround that led to him cutting that massive gap in the Rookie of the Year race came not long after (he finished second behind Doncic). Post-Jan. 23, Young saw major spikes in his production (23.6 points, 9.1 assists, 4.5 rebounds per game) and efficiency (44.3 percent overall, 36.3 percent from 3).
“I think I had to go through that to really be where I’m at now,” Young said.
It would be one thing for Young to declare Steve Nash the best point guard of all time. But ask him about the Greatest Player of All Time debate – MJ, LeBron, Wilt, Magic, Kareem? – and it’s quite another to hear him say that his answer doesn’t change.
“If anybody asks me who the best player of all time is, I tell them Steve Nash,” Young said. “That’s my favorite player, and it’s always been my favorite player.”
We’re sitting in this city where Nash carved out his remarkable legacy, just hours before Young will take the floor against the Suns with knowledge gained last summer from the Suns legend himself. Dreams do come true.
As ESPN detailed last month, Young first met Nash last season by way of Pierce, who — as luck would have it — was his backcourt mate at Santa Clara University in the mid-1990s and remains close with the two-time MVP and eight-time All-Star who retired in 2015. Fast forward to June 1, and Young is joining his childhood hero in Madrid to watch the UEFA Champions League soccer final between Liverpool and Tottenham as part of Nash’s new life as a correspondent for Bleacher Report Football. The fast friends made plans to work out back in the Los Angeles area from there, and would eventually wind up sharing the hardwood in July.
“I asked him what he saw in pick and rolls; what he looked at, what he looked for, how he finished around the rim over big men — little things like that,” Young said in our chat. “And it was more just teaching, doing a lot of talking rather than just drills.”
For all the endless discussion about Young being similar to Curry because of his smallish stature and penchant for parking lot 3s, it’s not hard to understand why he sees Nash as the more fitting comparison. He takes great pride in his playmaking and innate vision, but still sees it as an underappreciated part of his game.
“I definitely try to model my game as much as I can to Steve,” Young said when asked to name his personal top five of all-time point guards. “Obviously I loved watching Steph growing up. Growing up in Oklahoma City, I’ve been a big Russ (Westbrook) fan. Dame Lillard. Probably Kyrie (Irving) – as far as guys where I try to model my game (after them). It’s the little things that they have that I try to add to my game.”
That night at the Talking Stick Resort Arena, the Suns will later go on to take advantage of the Hawks’ depleted roster in a 128-112 win. Without third-year forward John Collins (who is six games into a 25-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy) and second-year shooting guard Kevin Huerter (who injured his right rotator cuff against Denver and will be re-evaluated in two weeks), Young realizes his plate is far fuller than any of them would prefer at the moment.
Yet even in defeat, with Young scoring 17 of his 21 points in the first half and finishing with 13 assists, he would inspire the same sort of postgame analysis that Nash’s foes would share for all those years. And yes, for anyone who missed it, there was another nutmeg victim as well: The Suns’ Ricky Rubio (evidence here).
“Playing against Trae is just a different beast,” Suns coach Monty Williams would say. “He’s unique. To have a guy that can just motor around the floor like that, it exposes you. …It’s almost like the quarterback who has eight seconds to throw the ball. Eventually you’re going to have a breakdown. You’ve got to try to get it out of his hands.”
The age factor alone is enough to get the Hawks excited about what might come next – especially when you put his early progress side-by-side with the aforementioned greats.
Curry didn’t average 20-plus points in a season until his fourth campaign (age 25), yet here Young sits at 27.3 (seventh in the league). Nash didn’t average eight-plus assists until his eighth season (age 30), yet Young is on his way to doing it for a second consecutive season (9.1 right now, third in the league).
Trae Young dribbles during a game against Stephen Curry. (Photo: Scott Cunningham / Getty Images)
With Young staying on this fast track, the Hawks, who spent approximately $200 million in arena renovations in October 2018, will keep looking for the right pieces to put around him for that proverbial next step (they’re slated to have $74 million in projected cap space this summer, but — Anthony Davis aside — this free agency class isn’t exciting anyone). It doesn’t hurt that Young plays with an inclusive flair that should attract more talent and sell plenty of tickets and sponsorships along the way. In the meantime, with fifth-year Hawks governor Tony Ressler saying last month that he expects improvement from their 29-53 record last season, they’ll try to survive the loss of Collins and Huerter to make an ahead-of-schedule playoff push this season.
“To be honest, in the East – besides maybe the first three or four spots – it’s wide open,” Young said. “If you look at our schedule, we’ve had a super tough schedule to start the season. And the way we’re playing right now, if we continue to play this way and focus and lock in every night and give us a chance to win, I think we have a chance to sneak into the playoffs.”
So long as they keep improving, with Young at the center of it all. Young’s to-do list from here is clear, and it’s full of items that will be attacked in an all-hands-on-deck kind of manner. But lest anyone confuse the push for more with a lack of appreciation for what Young already brings, don’t get it twisted. They know what, and who, they have here.
“He’s Trae fucking Young,” as Schlenk put it with a laugh.
Yet still, he’ll likely become even more.
As will always be the case with smaller point guards like Nash, Curry, Allen Iverson and Young, the defensive concerns will never fully disappear. But by all accounts, Young is doing all he can to maximize his limited potential on that end. The added weight should help, and Young said the fact that he’s “way better conditioned” this season should make it easier to stay engaged on both ends. It’s still early, but the Hawks’ defensive rating has gone from 28th last season to 18th – even with Collins missing the past six games. The individual defensive metrics remain unkind to Young (a 112.2 defensive rating with him on the floor and 99.1 when he’s off), but they see progress here.
“My game can grow definitely more on the defensive end, and I don’t think that’s necessarily anything you can teach. I think it’s more effort, and intensity. This season, I’ve taken big steps in focusing a lot more on the defensive end. I’ve always been really good offensively, but just defensively it’s an effort and it’s a thing that throughout my earlier levels I didn’t necessarily have to do as much. It was just more offensively and stuff like that. Now that I’m in the league, it’s something I’ve focused a lot on. That’s my main focus. If I want to get better, that’s the main area where I want to get better at.
“My evolution can happen quick. I think it’s already shown a lot more this year. And another thing is conditioning. I’m way better conditioned this year, and that’s another thing where on the defensive end you have to be able to care and it’s something you have to really work on. So conditioning is something I worked a lot on too.”
“Listen, it’s always going to be an issue with him just because of his size, right? But as he mentioned, you can give effort, right? Anticipate and be in the passing lanes. You can be in the right spot. You can be a help defensive player. But there will be times when people go at him. You’ve got to fight to get over screens. You can’t just die. You can run back in transition. There’s tons of things you can do as a little guy to be a factor. We’ve seen that. He had a game this year where he had five steals. He has great anticipation. He has extremely high basketball IQ. I think he would tell you that defense isn’t something that’s been demanded of him in the past, and that’s certainly something we talk to him about and we understand that he’s not going to be Gary Payton but you can give effort.”
For all of Young’s entertaining swagger and obvious confidence, he’s not always the vocal type. Team officials even describe him as tame in some settings – downright shy, even – and they have emphasized the importance of his voice within their evolving culture. Whether it’s late in the fourth quarter of a tight game or the latest team dinner, the more he speaks up, the better. By extension, there’s a focus on Young’s floor management and his ability to, in essence, be the rising tide that lifts all boats on a more consistent basis. Yet while the Hawks’ offensive rating is just 26th in the league so far, Young’s immense value on that end is clear: Atlanta’s offensive rating nosedives from 109.1 with him on the floor to 93 with him on the bench. If not for Jabari Parker, it would be even worse. The former No. 2 pick signed a two-year, $13 million deal with Atlanta last summer (player option next season), and is second on the team in scoring (18.4 points per game) and rebounding (6.1 behind Collins’ 8.8 in five games).
“We talk to (Young) about it all the time. He knows the next part of his growth is… realizing when a (teammate) has got it going. He can score so easily, and has been a scorer his whole life, but at this level there are other guys (who can score). Kevin gets two shots in a row, let me run a play to get Kevin the third shot. That’s part of his growth development too as a point guard, not just vocal but thinking the game mentally. He can get a shot anytime he wants to. But getting his teammates shots, when they’re hot or when they need one.”
The 43-year-old Pierce can be the hard-driving sort, and one scout with whom I spoke said there was a sense in league circles that Young didn’t always respond well to criticism during his rookie season. It’s one thing to be receptive to feedback, in other words, and quite another to absorb it in the kind of way that compels you to act upon it. But to hear Schlenk tell it, Young has grown when it comes to the process of implementing what is relayed from the coaching staff.
“I just think it’s part of his growth and maturity as well, realizing that there’s a difference between being yelled at and constructive criticism. Now some of that (is that) in today’s society, coaching has changed. I’m sure he was a kid where coaches didn’t really yell at him in AAU, because he was so talented. So it’s understanding that when Lloyd or any of our other coaches come up to him, it’s not a criticism. It’s just a critique to help him get better. And that just comes with maturity.
“The kid loves basketball. He’s a basketball junkie. He wants to be good, so the effort that he puts into getting better and practicing (is key). He obviously still has a ways to go. He’s not a finished product by any stretch. We’ll continue to work on his body, work on his nutrition. He’s getting better about doing maintenance, doing rehab stuff. Amazingly, he had his first sprained ankle this year (suffered 11 minutes into a loss against Miami on Oct. 29, leading to his one-game absence on Oct. 31 in a second loss to the Heat). He’s never had a sprained ankle in his life, so he doesn’t understand all that stuff. But all of that comes with maturity and time and dedication. He’s taking it by the horns.”
One tweet – and one talking head – at a time.
When Collins gets back, Turner and Parker will be a good bench unit.
Yeah the bench is really hurting with Huerter out right now. How many more games does Collins need to serve, like 20?
Man you can see flashes with Hunter and Reddish. It sucks not having Huerter and Collins but these reps against really good first units are good for these 2
It's hard to see much past those ugly Peachtree uniforms.
best career games for both of them last night. Not having Collins and Huerter is killing us though. Almost to a point where we may as well tank for another lottery pick.
Refs were absolute garbage. I can’t believe they called a foul on that one dude tripping himself on a breakaway by himself.
More of that from Cam and Hunter. Len can go back to whatever country he came from because I’m tired of him ruining beautiful passes with garbage finishing.
Playing well tonight. Frustrating to think how much better we’d be with Huerter and Collins.
siakam is good
Deandre Hunter is going to be really good
Dude is on fire tonight
when Trae and Huerter are the primary ball handlers, Hunter is really freed up
And of course it looks like they're going to lose the game now. Whatever, just get a good draft pick for next year at this rate. When does John Collins come back?
Why did Lloyd have Benbry and Vince in with a minute to go up 6?
Get outta here you weirdo
Very tough. I like Pierce but you gotta keep your best guys on the floor. Prevent defense doesn't work in basketball.
At this point just hoping to actually have some damn luck in the lottery. we got screwed last year.
Yeah if you take Trae out for D, fine, but call an immediate time out to get him back in when they make the 3.
Sooo are we panicking or what
Got to get Wiseman now
Defense was a catastrophe
offense outside of Trae was almost as bad
another year of the tank. time to embrace it and hope we have good lottery luck.
The only players that matter this year are Trae, JC, Huerter, Hunter and Reddish.
We knew we sucked at Center this year. Len is a decent bench player at best. I’d still love Myles Turner as a 5.
having to play Parker as a starter next to Jones means you are going to be trash defensively.
Play the young guys, hope we have lottery luck, and can use cap space and a pick to find legit help.
i'd be fine if we traded Jabari after Collins comes back. Could get a second rounder out of him and there's no way he accepts that club option next year.
This is suuuuuch a PG heavy draft though. After Wiseman, I don't see a guy who immediately helps the young core.
think Jabaris initial job was to come in and get buckets vs 2nd units, which he did ok before Collins suspension. We have so few good offensive players, it’s a needed skill right now.
My hope if we don’t get 1, is that we get a pick high enough to use as trade bait for an established player.
My God at this thread title, hope Cam Reddish doesn't read the board. His confidence can't afford another hit.
Fun game tonight. Reddish / Hunter and Huerter are going to be so good defensively this time next year if we can avoid injuries
I love how every game Trae and pick 2 players score more than 10 pts and the rest of the team all has like 2-4 pts.
What are we trying to accomplish here
The Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks have been engaged in talks on a trade centered around Andre Drummond, league sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
No deal is imminent, but Detroit is talking to Atlanta and several other teams on Drummond, sources said.
Drummond has a $28 million player option for next season that he is unlikely to exercise, forcing the Pistons to consider the possibility of losing him in free agency.
Among teams, there's an increasing belief that Drummond will be moved before the Feb. 6 trade deadline.
8th seed is my only guess
Yeah this season is shot, we wouldn't probably keep him next season right?