Analyst urges Atlanta Hawks to use Trae Young more like Stephen Curry

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

Anytime there is a comparison between Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors it can be a little cringy. At such different stages of their careers, it seems unfair to either to try and oversimplify their respective games because they have similar builds and polarizing presences.

During the fourth quarter of the 110-86 loss at the hands of the Miami Heat which has put the Hawks in a 3-1 hole, analyst and former 14-year NBA veteran Jim Jackson made a very valid point about the Hawks struggles and a possible solution.

That only came after Jackson was very blunt in his assessment saying, “This looks like a pro team playing against a young college team”.

Anthony was not done with his assessment which happened to include Curry.

NBA analyst Jim Jackson wants the Atlanta Hawks to get Trae Young off of the ball more

The remarks came during the fourth quarter with a Jimmy Butler and one putting the Heat up 95-69 with 6:36 seconds to go. Anthony prefaced his comments with “this is no disrespect to the Hawks”, but the truth is often more painful than a lie. And for the Hawks, this series made one thing clear to the one-time Hawks wing.

“They’re (MIA) able to dominate, to move the Hawks around at ease to get anything they want offensively. And on the defensive end, basically, stymie anything the Hawks want to do.”

His broadcast partner, Ian Eagle, broke in saying, “They’ve broken their will”. Jackson concurred noting that the Hawks body language told the tale. To that point, they had shot just 38.1% from the floor and knocked down just 10-of-33 threes.

Trae Young took just one attempt inside the three-point line all game.

“The beautiful thing about Steph is you can play Steph off the ball. He’s willing to give it up because you have a playmaker like Draymond, Jordan Poole up top that can facilitate the offense which…makes it easier for Steph to be Steph. You’re asking Trae to handle everything. And he’s going to be less efficient of a player until he finds playmakers…to play him off the ball a little bit.”

Both Eagle and Jackson made note of Young’s current level of ability. But there is a ceiling to how far the Hawks style can go and it is largely matchup dependent.

To Jackson’s point, Golden State led the league in screen rate this season, per data, and is 12th in points per play. Atlanta ranks 20th in frequency and 27th in points per play. The Hawks employ more pick-and-roll in their scheme, but the gap is not as large as on screens.

They also haven’t been able to utilize their bread-and-butter action in this series either with Clint Capela missing Games 2 and 3.

Young traveled a greater total distance on offense during the regular season thanks to appearing in 12 more games. But Curry bested Young’s per game distance by 0.07 miles per game.

That might not seem like much unless you watch just how much movement Curry does off the ball. Compare that to Young who, in the Hawks offense, can often stand in one spot until the ball finds its way back to him.

At that point, the shot clock is typically too low for even the pick-and-roll and he is left to heave a three-pointer.

There is a similar disparity on cuts but the Hawks are more efficient there, ranking fourth generating 1.37 PPP.

Jackson finished his thought by putting much of the onus on Young for the betterment of the team saying, “He has to be willing also…long-term success for this Hawks team, they have to figure it out”.

Young has shown the ability and a willingness to do more without the ball in his hands. And the need for a second star is something we have been pointing out since last season and, naturally, this game and series has rekindled those sentiments.

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