Perhaps there is no greater testament to Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young’s polarity than the fact that, within the span of four months, he was voted as both the NBA’s most overrated player and its most underrated player by different media outlets.
Back in April, The Athletic conducted an end-of-regular-season poll featuring dozens of players to gauge their opinions on their NBA peers. In that poll, Young’s counterparts gave him the unenviable recognition as the most overrated player in the entire NBA.
But now, a new list published by powerhouse media outlet Bleacher Report has listed Young as the league’s most underrated player dating back to the last five seasons.
The list noted the fact that over the last three years, the Atlanta Hawks are plus-2.9 with Young on the floor and minus-0.7 without him.
So how could two different groups of people, both watching the same player over the same period of time, come to such drastically different conclusions about what they are seeing?
Hawks’ Trae Young has been heavily scrutinized since he entered the league
Trae Young’s very entrance into the NBA was the subject of intense debate, as he was one-half of the draft night trade that sent Luka Doncic to the Mavericks and brought Young to Atlanta.
His name first entered national headlines during his lone season as an Oklahoma Sooner, a season in which Young became the first player in college basketball history to lead the country in both points and assists.
After a bumpy start to his rookie season, Young showed steady improvement over the next two years, entering the upper echelon of NBA point guards and culminating in a 2021 postseason run that is among the best in Atlanta Hawks history.
Still, despite his numbers staying consistently high throughout the last two years, both of which ended in early playoff exits, Young’s name seems to draw much stronger reactions than some of his young backcourt counterparts around the NBA.
This latest list by Bleacher Report comes at a time when the Trae Young hate is reaching levels of ludicrousy that border on satire.
Recently, ESPN NBA “expert” Tim Bontemps opined that he would rather have Stephen Curry (obviously fair), Jalen Brunson, Tyrese Haliburton, and perhaps Jrue Holiday on his team than Young, a statement that understandably drew strong reactions on social media.
It’s inconceivable that someone who watched all of these players throughout the 2022-23 season could objectively pick any of them besides Stephen Curry over Young. So what gives?
Perhaps the Young disrespect is actually a sign of great respect in disguise. It seems that in recent times, Young’s name has become the measuring stick for young guards around the league.
Oh, Tyrese Haliburton is having a good season? Well, how does he compare to Trae Young? The same goes for Brunson and others, including Darius Garland up in Cleveland. The fact that Young is now the barometer by which other guards are measured is actually proof of great admiration around the league.
Still, one can’t help but laugh when statements such as the one above are made. Another possible reason for the vitriol is the fact that Young’s profile is so high throughout the league that inciting his name in a negative context will cause a firestorm of reactions, and in today’s digital media age, reactions are the name of the game. Certain publications have generated much publicity for themselves by using Young’s name in ludicrous comparisons in a clear attempt to garner attention.
In any case, it’s good to see that at least one major outlet is firing back at the discourse and acknowledging the reality that, however odd it may seem, Young is now clearly one of the, if not the most underrated player in the NBA.