Trae Young key for ‘optimistic’ Hawks outlook this season, analyst says

Atlanta Hawks, Quin Snyder, Trae Young. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks, Quin Snyder, Trae Young. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports /

There aren’t many certainties in professional sports but the Atlanta Hawks can bank on a top-rated offensive output when Trae Young is on the floor.

“The Hawks typically score at a good rate whenever he plays,” wrote Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report on September 23. “In each of the last three seasons, the Hawks’ marks for points per 100 possessions ranked in the 95th, 95th and 87th percentiles, respectively, when Young was in the game.”

Bailey lists Young — who is coming off his second consecutive season leading the league in total assists — as one reason the Hawks can be “optimistic” this season. Young also finished 10th in total points in 2022-23, just one season after also leading the league in that category.

Atlanta posted a plus-2.4 net rating with Young on the floor, per Cleaning The Glass.

And Young’s plus-6.8 efficiency differential was second on the team behind only Saddiq Bey who had nearly 2000 fewer possessions with the Hawks last season.

For as much as Young’s defense has been criticized, it ranked in the 51st percentile last season. That is the best mark of his career and came amid a season of changes from the front office where former team president Travis Schlenk stepped down in December and then former head coach Nate McMillan was dismissed after the All-Star break.

Schlenk assembled the bulk of this roster, a roster that made a surprise run to the Eastern Conference Finals under the guidance of McMillan. Now, with just five players remaining from that group, they are looking to forge a new, hopefully longer postseason story.

Back-to-back early exits have left Young dissatisfied.

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This is where the Hawks hope Quin Snyder can be the difference-maker or, as Young put it, “game-changer”.

“Bringing Quin in halfway [through the season], I think, is a game changer for us,” Young said on “From The Point by Trae Young” on June 1. “Just from what he brings like his mental and just him being a real teacher….He teaches everybody. From the coaches to the players all day, and he’s always talking during practices.”

Dejounte Murray and Quin Snyder should be even better for Hawks in 2023-24

Snyder – whose arrival figures to signal a more three-point-laden attack than his predecessor’s – has also gotten a vote of confidence from Dejounte Murray who partnered with Young to become just the second duo in NBA history to average at least 25.0 points and 6.0 assists.

Murray cited the head coach’s “basketball IQ” and holding players accountable as benefits.

“I think we can be special,” Young said about his on-court pairing with Murray — whom he was instrumental in bringing to Atlanta – on the August 4 episode of his podcast. “For me, I don’t like necessarily talking about it. I like going out and doing it. So like it’s different for me talking about it. But I know we can be special.”

Young also explained what he likes most about playing alongside Murray, who has the same birthday.

“You got to have guys on the court that can think,” Young said. “So when sometimes you’re getting trapped you throw to somebody who doesn’t know what to do when he catches it…it’s harder. But having a guy like DJ, I can throw it to him and I know he’s in attack mode. He can catch it and go with somebody holds, he can hit the shooter – he can hit [Bogdan Bogdanovic] in the corner.”

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A full offseason for Snyder to implement his schemes, as well as another training camp and preseason for Young and Murray to grow even more accustomed to playing off of one another on the court, will only benefit this group.