How does one get put on blast on their day off? Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young found out with a very unflattering report on how he is perceived around the league and, perhaps, even in his locker room coming out.
Young missed the Hawks’ impressive 117-109 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
It was a strong showing from everyone who was able to suit up and even featured the return of swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic among several other pleasant surprises. None was better than Dejounte Murray whose night included 34 points – 20 of which came in the second half – to go with eight assists, three rebounds, and a block.
He also put on a tremendous display of leadership that makes the report on Young even more damning in hindsight.
‘Nobody likes’ Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young, says analyst
“I’ve spoken to a few people around the league,” said Morten Jensen on ‘The NBA Podcast’, “and the sense that I’m getting – or what I’m also being told outright – is that nobody likes him. Like, even external players outside of the Hawks are not interested in playing with him. There is basically this sense that Trae is what you call a ‘selfish unselfish’ passer.”
Young led the NBA in total points last season. But he also led the league total assists which would seem fairly difficult to do if all of your passing was agenda driven. But, to Jensen’s point, the Hawks went 21-22 when Young had 10-plus assists last season.
They went 19-14 when he had nine or fewer.
Young’s 21.4% assist-to-pass percentage is higher than Russell Westbrook’s and the former is doing it with the fifth-highest usage rate in the NBA.
“He has the reputation as an unselfish passer,” Jensen continued. “But he clearly has an agenda that he wants to dictate. He is not exactly a leader – he’s not someone who will get everyone with him.”
Jensen said that it’s possible Young changes his playing style to be more teammate-friendly while citing John Collins’ diminished usage as an example.
“A point guard like Trae Young should be able to recognize the benefit of a John Collins but continually doesn’t,” Jensen concluded of the Collins-Young dynamic.
It is a pairing that has provided countless highlights despite the turbulence now.
Jensen’s co-host Bryan Toporek compared the situation to NFL quarterbacks Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals and Russell Wilson of the Denver Broncos who have both been in the news for ruffling the feathers of current and/or former teammates.
Who knows how much other players discuss wanting to play with Young? But his current teammates don’t seem to dislike him as suggested and Murray – an outside player before this season – has quickly formed a bond with his backcourt partner. Interestingly enough, the last player to voice an issue with Young’s ball-dominant ways was Collins two seasons ago.
That situation was squashed then with Collins joining Young and Murray in pro-am action over the summer.
Young also weighed in on the Hawks’ win.
That was before Lloyd Pierce was fired and replaced by Nate McMillan who led them to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Last year’s disappointment surely has played a part in the sour opinions of Young’s game.
But, perhaps it would benefit everyone involved if he continued to develop his ability to play without the ball in his hands as much as it is now. That is the only way we get to see this version of the Hawks reach its ceiling.