Trae Young blasted for old comments with Atlanta Hawks eliminated

Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

This offseason should be chock full of motivation for Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young after his team was bounced from the playoffs unceremoniously in five games by the top-seeded Miami Heat. The 97-94 defeat underscored the Hawks struggles in the series to generate offense as the Heat got a win in the absence of Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry.

The Hawks were without Bogdan Bogdanovic due to soreness in his surgically repaired knee and lost Clint Capela during the course of the game, also to a knee issue.

Still, Young’s poor showing, particularly in Games 1, 4, and 5 when he averaged 9.3 points on 17.4% shooting and hit just 5-of-25 threes. Them not getting a shot off on the final play and Young sitting by himself on the bench has become the story instead of his historic season.

The NBA world took aim at Trae Young for his role in the Atlanta Hawks disappointing season

Vitriol towards Young has been coming from all directions with many wanting comparisons to Luka Doncic to cease. Others, like Fox Sports 1’s Skip Bayless, have used this as an opportunity to proclaim Young was always overhyped. And still, others took it a step further and, instead of hot-taking their way through the discussion, placed real blame at Young’s feet.

Mo Mooncey took Young to task on the April 27 edition of his podcast, “The Hoop Genius”, in an episode partially titled “‘Ice Trae’ freezes as the Hawks are eliminated”.

“He was abysmal. I know he had that game-winning floater in Game 3…But the rest of the series, it was horrible. Tonight with no Kyle Lowry and no Jimmy Butler, you’re supposed to be the best player on the court. Max Strus was outplaying you. Victor Oladipo, who’s been missing for the past two years with injuries, outplayed you.”

At that point, Mooncey points to that fateful final possession before crediting Miami’s defense for their effort when he brings up Young’s comments to The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner from November 4 about why the Hawks had gotten off to a 4-5 start.

“It’s regular season. I’m not going to lie, it’s a lot more boring than the playoffs. You got to find that motivation to play like the playoffs.”

So, the duo is just a few months late and omitted a very important piece of information with Young making note of the need to play in the regular season as if it were the postseason. The Hawks never did, though, making The Hoop Genius stance somewhat understandable.

Mooncey continued.

“The guy has been to one conference finals, that was gifted to him, by Ben Simmons having the biggest choke job in the world last season…they got to the Conference Finals. But it wasn’t real finals. Because in the first round, they played the Knicks. The four-seed Knicks. That wasn’t real. Second of all, then they went home and played the Sixers…and then they got through to the Conference Finals.”

Mooncey then finds the quote for his co-host and three-time NBA champion, B.J. Armstrong – who was also disapproving –.and gets in one last dig.

“He doesn’t take into account that the regular season is where the foundations and the principles of winning teams are established and built. So shout out to Trae Young, who apparently is a grizzly veteran for the NBA playoffs because he made the Conference Finals once by good fortune…he had a horrendous series.”

Armstrong then gave his take.

“The reason that [the regular season] matters is that it allows for the individuals to come together to figure out what brand of basketball they’re going to play during the regular season that possibly could give them the best chance when the games matter most, called the playoffs.”

Armstrong continues by saying that it is a “responsibility “ to go out there and perform at your best.

“If you play well during the regular season, theoretically, it increases your chances because you’re playing at home. We know, Mo, we play better at home than we play on the road…you get the rest and every advantage necessary to play.”

To Armstrong’s point, the Hawks had the third-best record at home in the East during the regular season.

They had the conference’s fifth-worst record on the road.

“I don’t think he clearly understands what he’s saying…I just hope that Trae Young can understand the importance of seeding. Of what it means to be a good teammate. But, more importantly, if you’re going to have this fun in the playoffs…no one can do this alone.”

Armstrong acknowledged he did not hear the full context around Young’s comments. But he did touch on a salient point about being a better teammate.

That should include coming off of the ball more next season, something his head coach alluded to, as well as finding better ways to navigate through adversity than earning a tech with his team mounting a do-or-die comeback.

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Young owned up to his shortcomings and, in his exit interview, said he’s already ready to get back to work. But the message to him from the outside has been very clear. As Armstrong, who called Young a “great player”, put it, “Every game counts”.