Grading Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young’s sophomore season.
Expectations were high for Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young‘s second NBA season. He was fantastic in the second half of his rookie year, and many were excited to see him play at a high level for a full season.
Young managed to shatter even the highest of expectations, playing like a true superstar at the age of 21. The free-shooting guard showed even more range, better touch around the rim, more consistent, high-level passing, and an elite feel for the game in just his second season.
When the NBA was put on hold in March, Young was fourth in the league in points per game and second in the league in assists per game. The latter was probably even more impressive, given the lack of talent surrounding him in the ATL.
Trae Young’s 2019-2020 Report Card:
Offensive Grade: A
It’s hard to exactly put into words how great Trae was offensively this season. He was faced with an absurd amount of double-teams (thanks again to the lack of talent around him) and was still one of the best scorers in the league.
His now-famous range is the main selling point of Young’s game, and for good reason. Young is a threat to score the second he passes the halfcourt line, attempting 105 shots from 30 feet or longer away from the rim. Almost all of his threes are from at least a step behind the line, and a great amount of them are created by himself.
He completes his offensive game with a great arsenal of floaters and layups. The latter is probably the most improved part of his game this season, with Young able to finish through and around contact much more frequently.
Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce has given Trae the green light on every possession for good reason. He’s a true scorer, a crafty, heads-up one always capable of making even veteran defenders look silly.
Playmaking Grade: A
It’s crazy to think that while Trae Young is such a talented scorer, it might not even be the best aspect of his game. Young is a point guard at heart and a truly elite playmaker, one of the best in the league.
As a halfcourt ball-handler, Young keeps defenders honest with his aforementioned range. The threat of pulling up for a shot at any moment gives him time to run the offense. He’s smart passing out of double-teams and has deadly accurate skip passes whenever he sees an open man.
In transition, Young is quick – both in his feet and his reads – and precise. The Hawks like to push the pace, and Trae’s ability to facilitate at full speed is a key component of that.
The turnovers (4.8 per game) did get a bit out of hand for a while there, and the only time Young showed his sophomore status on offense. The hope is that if Atlanta acquires a secondary play-maker through the draft, trade, or free agency and help take some pressure off of Young in that regard, who finished 3rd in the league in usage rate.
He’s also a fantastic lob passer, much to the delight of rim-runner John Collins:
Rebounding Grade: C
For the sake of consistency, I left this metric on the report card, but no one is judging the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Young on his ability to rebound. He averaged 4.3 boards per game this season, a modest tick up from his rookie season, but most were right place, right time boards.
Young can get a bit more aggressive on the glass if he’s nearing a triple-double, but he’s best suited for looking for the outlet pass from the tall trees than battling in them.
Defensive Grade: D
You all knew this was coming. It’s pretty unavoidable, as even though multiple metrics show Trae as a top-ten offensive player in the league, those advanced stats hate Young defensively.
Effort and improvement from his rookie season save him from earning an ‘F’ in this department, as you can’t say he doesn’t at least try on D. He just doesn’t have the natural defensive tools to make him even a mediocre defender in the league quite yet.
Young’s footwork in one-on-one scenarios is rough, as he seems inept at moving laterally on defense despite being a tremendous athlete on the other end of the court. He shies away from fighting through screens, leading to many inopportune mismatches for both himself and his teammates.
The Hawks do have to hide Young on defense, which should be easier as Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter continue to develop on that end. Young gets a small number of bonus points for being a good lurker, and he will fly in for a steal once or twice a game.
Overall Grade: A –
Trae Young let everyone in the NBA world know that he arrived this year, forgetting the sophomore slump and smashing expectations. Young was named an All-Star starter in February, and while his team success (20-47) might keep him out, he will be getting at least some All-NBA consideration this off-season.
Any player with Young’s downfalls on D better have a damn good offensive game to offset that, and luckily for the Atlanta Hawks, Trae is already one of the best offensive weapons in the league.
What grade would you give Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young this season?