Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young causes stir with cryptic message

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

On a night when the Atlanta Hawks were as far from the center of attention as any team in the NBA, Trae Young still found a way to steal the spotlight however briefly.

May 16 marked the start of the NBA Conference Finals with Game 1 between the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles. But the game was preceded by the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery which the Hawks were not a part of either having made the playoffs. With the festivities still in the early goings, Young tweeted out a seemingly cryptic message that got some traction.

“Expect the unexpected,” read Young’s tweet.

Naturally, speculation over the reason for the message varied wildly with some speculating things from a potential trade for Boston Celtics star (and Georgia native) Jaylen Brown or Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetkounmpo to Young himself demanding a trade.

Of course, a simpler possibility could be Young’s own pre-draft experience. He told the story of thinking he would be drafted by the Chicago Bulls or Orlando Magic during an appearance on the ‘Gimme The Hot Sauce’ podcast, which is hosted by Bulls commentator Stacey King, in May of 2022.

“To be honest, the day of the draft, I didn’t think I was going to Atlanta,” Young said. “I thought I was going to go to either Orlando at six or, if I fell to seven, go to ya’ll.

“I didn’t think about any trades. I didn’t hear about the trade going on all day. I didn’t know that Dallas was thinking about trading with Atlanta until literally two picks before I got drafted. So, all day I’m thinking…I knew I was going either sixth to Orlando or seventh to ya’ll.”

Young was selected with the No. 5 overall pick by the Dallas Mavericks in 2018. But Dallas immediately traded him to Atlanta for Luka Doncic and a 2019 first-rounder that became Cam Reddish – who has since gone on to play for two other teams after two trades in two years – in a deal that is still hotly debated amongst Hawks fans.

Atlanta Hawks projected to select big guard with No. 15 overall pick

Tuesday did have some excitement with as the Detroit Pistons owned the worst record during the regular season but fell all the way out of the top-3 picks despite tying (three ways) for the best odds in the pool.

They weren’t the only ones, either, as the Houston Rockets went from No. 2 to No. 4 overall.

Meanwhile, the Charlotte Hornets and Portland Trail Blazers jumped up to Nos. 2 and 3, respectively. The San Antonio Spurs won the No. 1 overall pick and presumably French phenom Victor Wembanyama.

Atlanta is projected to take Indiana standout Jalen Hood-Schifino with the No. 15 overall pick, per ESPN Draft analyst Jonathan Givony. Hood-Schifino is a 6-foot-6 prospect who averaged 13.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists for the Hoosiers this past season, though his efficiency – .417/.333/.776 – and 2.8 turnovers leave something to be desired.

But Hood-Schifino was just a freshman and offers tantalizing upside.

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The Hawks have had projected lottery pick fall to them outside of the lottery in each of the last two seasons, first snagging Jalen Johnson No. 20 overall in 2021, and then getting AJ Griffin with the No. 16 overall selection in the 2023 NBA Draft.