Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young gets shoutout from NBA great

Atlanta Hawks, Trae Young. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks, Trae Young. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Heading into his sixth NBA season, Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young remains one of the most polarizing players in today’s NBA amongst his peers and fans alike.

However, he at least has the respect of one former NBA champion and six-time All-Defensive team member.

Recently, retired Boston Celtics and Memphis Grizzlies forward Tony Allen was asked who he would want to play against out of all of the young stars in today’s NBA, and his answer was none other than the Atlanta Hawks point guard.

Allen’s quote about Trae Young should be taken as a sign of respect

Although within the context of the quote, it was insinuated that Allen thinks he would have been able to “lock up” Young back in his heyday, the shoutout should still be taken as a sign of respect from one of the game’s best defenders in modern history.

Recently, Golden State Warriors legend Stephen Curry listed Allen as one of the three toughest defenders he’s ever had to play against in his storied career. And Curry is far from the only offensive savant to mention Allen’s name when discussing great defenders.

Both Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant, two of the greatest scorers of all time, also named Allen as the single toughest player that ever defended them.

The fact that Allen, a tenacious competitor, and ball-hawking defender, sees Young as the player he’d most like to challenge himself by playing against of all of the modern NBA stars surely says something about the former Oklahoma Sooner.

This comes at a time when the disrespect for Young from his NBA counterparts is at an all-time high.

This past April, in a players poll conducted by The Athletic, Young was voted the most overrated player in the entire NBA. Ironically enough, this same poll occurred in a year when Young was one of the most egregious All-Star snubs in recent NBA history, missing out on the big game despite some of the laughable names that made the cut ahead of him.

The disrespect for Youngn has always been a bit bizarre.

It’s easy to understand why players and fans in cities such as, say, New York or Philadelphia might hold a grudge. But there doesn’t seem to be a true discernable reason as to why the point guard draws the volatile reactions that he does.

Yes, his style of play can be annoying if you’re on the wrong end of it. But Young is far from the most notorious foul-baiter in the league.

His relatively small stature in some ways necessitates that he uses some crafty tactics to keep the defense off-balance, whereas much larger players like James Harden, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Joel Embiid, and Luka Doncic flop just as much if not more than Young, and receive nowhere near the criticism. Something just isn’t adding up.

And yes, Young’s outsized on-court persona surely can leave a bad taste in some people’s mouths. Maybe other NBA players’ disdain for Young stems from the fact that this generation of basketball players grew up in a very controlled, individualized era of hoops where trash-talking was looked down upon and players are friendlier with one another than ever before. Perhaps players simply aren’t used to someone like Young actually showing emotion and getting in people’s heads on the court.

This is why it makes perfect sense that Allen, a notorious NBA trash-talker, would be the opposite and gravitate towards Young, who truly is an old soul in a new game.

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While we’ll never get to see prime Tony Allen defend prime Trae Young, it’s still nice to see that the Atlanta Hawks point guard is on the radar of an all-time great defender.