Should the Hawks make this trade?
The reason to do this trade is obvious: Damian Lillard is a better player than Trae Young, a more accurate shooter with an even deeper range, something only two players in the league can claim. He may not be the passer that Young is, but he does something at an elite level that Young only plays at: Lillard is a lethal off-ball player, willing to move off screens and shoot off-the-catch. He is no Stephen Curry, but his off-ball gravity is immense.
If the Hawks are committing to Dejounte Murray long-term, they need a backcourt partner who will actually move off the ball when Murray is running the action. Lillard, the ultimate teammate, will do that; Young did not this past year, and it bodes ill for his long-term fit with Murray in Atlanta.
The reason not to do this trade is also clear: if the organization still believes in Young’s upside, he is eight years younger, slightly less expensive and wouldn’t require multiple first-round picks to add. How much better than Young does Lillard have to be to justify the cost?
There is hope that Young can find his footing after a full offseason of Quin Snyder instituting an offensive system that is focused on Young and Murray thriving. There is also the counterpoint that Lillard would look amazing in a Quin Snyder offense.
Door No. 3 is that the Hawks look to move Young for a wing or frontcourt player, getting out of the business of double-point-guards. If such a deal were on the table it would be easier to factor in, but that’s a future unknown; Lillard being on the trade market is a present reality.
It’s a difficult decision, but if the Hawks can get Portland to play ball, they should pull the trigger. Lillard sets a team’s culture, and the Hawks can use such a leader on their team. Young is unlikely to ever become that, no matter how good of an offensive player he is.