Just this past season, Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young led the entire NBA in total assists and total points some 50 years after the only other time such a feat had occurred. A year before that, he guided the overlooked Hawks to within two wins of the NBA Finals in just his third season.
Now, he heads into the first year of a five-year, $215 million max contract with a new running mate in Dejounte Murray.
It would seem that the soon-to-be 24-year-old was just beginning his ascension.
Yet, in a recent poll, the Hawks scoring dynamo has taken a few steps back when compared to some players on somewhat similar trajectories. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Young is already more accomplished than many of the players ranked ahead of him.
Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young ranked far too low by NBA Execs
This recent poll of 15 NBA executives was conducted by HoopsHype in a follow-up to a similar exercise conducted in January. In that previous poll, Young ranked fifth. It was perhaps most notable because he was not ranked when HoopsHype first did this back in 2020 – it is important to point out that the list only goes 13 deep.
Opinions turned following that run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2021 with one executive saying via HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto that Young “showed he can win as a focal point”.
It appears front office types have soured on him once again ranking Young ninth.
He is tied with Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Darius Garland with both players receiving 4% of the vote on which under-25 players executives would want to build around. Some might expect to see players such as Luka Doncic or Jayson Tatum ahead of Young.
Both players have been since the first iteration of the list. But some of the others listed have leapfrogged Young if for no other reason than intrigue it would seem.
He is listed behind players such as Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes who was not ranked in the previous version and New Orleans Pelicans phenom Zion Williamson who reclaimed his advantage despite not playing last season. Young was also leapfrogged by Cleveland Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley.
All of those are talented players with enticing measurables.
None of them have accomplished what Young has on an individual or a team level which makes the ranking a bit puzzling.
Potential is a dangerous word but these rankings show just how much these executives’ thought processes are geared toward the unknown despite proof positive in someone such as Young.
“Young is a game-changer,” an NBA executive told HoopsHype. “We play in a guard’s league. He carries his team and makes everyone better around him.”
Still, Scotto points out his playoff struggles as part of the reason behind dropping young several spots keeping him behind LaMelo Ball of the Charlotte Hornets whom the Hawks knocked out of the Play-In Tournament.
The Cavs did not even make the postseason losing both shots in the Play-In including the final blow delivered by Young and the Hawks.
Youth and upside will always be a draw.
But to see so many dismiss what Young has done is quite interesting given how brightly his star has shown in such a brief period.