“I know from watching whatever you do, do not and do not get Trae Young mad,” said Hawks rookie Seth Lundy during his introductory press conference on June 26. “I know that he’s the type of player, when the crowd talk talks back to him, it’s just a whole different level for him.”
Young has made quite a name for himself in a couple of arenas away from home, particularly in the home of the New York Knicks, Madison Garden. Knicks fans have developed a healthy disdain for the Hawks star after he ended their season in five games, sealing it with a bow on the MSG floor in the deciding Game 5.
“I know where we are. I know it’s a bunch of shows around this city. And I know what they do when the show is over,” Young said after the game.
More recently, Young took exception to comments made by Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler essentially guaranteeing a win over the Hawks in the Play-In Tournament. The Hawks went on to beat Miami 116-105 in the opening round of the Play-In. Of course, Miami went on to get the last laugh, advancing to the NBA Finals.
Atlanta, meanwhile, took a couple of tilts against the second-seeded Boston Celtics before bowing out in six games. It was their second first-round exit in as many years with the first coming in five games at Miami’s hands.
Young said it’s tough taking steps back since their run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2021.
But he also noted an appreciation for how difficult it is to even make it that far into the postseason and vowed to get back into form from long distance next season.
Atlanta Hawks rookies offer takeaways from this past season
“The team in general I feel like it’s a good overall team,” Lundy continued. “Definitely headed in the right direction, and just add a few pieces, and be a championship contender. So I’m looking forward to getting to work and bringing my versatility with shooting to the team.”
Lundy, the No. 46 overall pick, shot 40% on 6.4 threes per game this past season in college.
“We went through some ups and downs last year, and being able to just stay on track and stand resilient to the process,” said Bufkin. “They obviously made some noise in the playoffs that showed that they can compete at the highest level. The defensive energy from Dejounte and AJ and all those guys really stuck out to me, and I’m just looking forward to being able to add to that energy.”
Bufkin averaged 14.0 points while shooting 35.5% from deep and swiping 1.4 steals per game this past season. That is a solid profile for the 6-foot-4 guard who figures to slot into the backup point guard duties to have.
The Hawks’ other selection, Mouhamed Gueye (No. 39 overall) was asked for his major takeaways from the Hawks’ 2022-23 season.
“The main thing I remember is just competing no matter what it was: the series, in regular season, playoffs, Play-In,” said Gueye. Just them competing every time. I think that’s the thing I remember.”
Atlanta’s competitiveness was a topic of discussion for Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra and Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown, both of whom noted a shift after Quin Snyder took over.
With the Hawks trading John Collins to Snyder’s former team the Utah Jazz, the influx of rookies, and the expectation that the Hawks will continue looking to improve this roster, Snyder and the front office’s vision for this team is becoming clearer.