It is always nice to hear the stars of the past show an appreciation for those of today – not always a given with the differences between how the game is played now as opposed to, say, 15 years ago. And it is even nicer when that recognition is for the Atlanta Hawks (9-5) players, again something that was not always the case.
Two-time All-Star point guard Trae Young has done his part to help resurrect a franchise that was on the brink of sinking into anonymity without star power after fielding some of the most exciting teams of the mid-2000s and 2010s.
This offseason Young got a proper running mate in Dejounte Murray.
The dynamic pairing has been dynamite since before the season began building strong chemistry in pro-am play that has Hall-of-Famer Reggie Miller gushing.
Hall of Famer Reggie Miller sends message on Atlanta Hawks dynamic duo
“We talked about [Ja] Morant and [Desmond] Bane arguably being…maybe the best backcourt in the league,” Miller said as Bane and Morant’s Memphis Grizzlies lost to the New Orleans Pelicans. “But…what about Dejounte Murray and Trae Young in Atlanta? I think they’re giving them a run for their money as well.”
That is no small statement by the NBA 75th Anniversary team member as the pairing of the sharpshooting Bane with the electric Morant has been gangbusters.
Morant gave the franchise a new identity after the “Grit & Grind” era which produced a standard for toughness that exists even in this current iteration of the team. Bane’s arrival coincided with the Grizzlies snapping a four-year playoff drought.
Similarly, Young’s arrival in Atlanta brought a new direction after a three-year playoff absence.
He has already orchestrated two playoff appearances alongside the likes of Bogdan Bogdanovic, Clint Capela, and John Collins among others. But the Hawks front office still saw fit to bring in Murray after watching the Miami Heat defense key in on Young in the postseason leading to a swift exit.
They still have a ways to go before they can claim the same level of impact as Bane and Morant as a group.
The Grizzlies’ twosome sports a plus-19.6 net rating, per Cleaning The Glass.
Murray and Young are at plus-8.4, ranking in the 87th percentile while seeing nearly 50% more non-garbage minutes than Bane and Morant. Adding to the optimism for the Hawks’ backcourt, their Grizzlies counterparts finished last season plus-3.6.
There are still plenty of kinks in the operation to iron out – three-point shooting and the spacing it provides being among them.
The Hawks can hang their hats on having gone further in the postseason with Young alone than the Grizzlies have in their three tries with Bane and Morant. That may be all the more reason to be optimistic given that the Hawks are sitting third in the Eastern Conference nearly a quarter of the way through the season.
It also raises the level of expectation.
They will have a chance to get one up on the top-ranked Boston Celtics on Wednesday in a game featuring another dynamic duo in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.