The Hawks have a serious Trae Young problem

Evidence that Atlanta and Young will have a hard time working out continues to mount.
Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks
Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks just completed a season without a playoff appearance for the first time since Trae Young's sophomore season, and talk of major changes within the organization continue to grow. Rumors of the Hawks looking to trade one of Young or Dejounte Murray were already widespread, and that scenario now seems a near certainty.

The truth is that Atlanta has struggled to build consistency in the Trae Young era. Yes, Trae is a phenomenal offensive talent, but the argument that he can lead this team to a championship is showing some major cracks.

Outside of the 2021 postseason where they advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Hawks have failed to win a playoff series in any of the other five years with Trae as the top dog. They have gotten him something resembling a running mate over the last two seasons in Murray, but the team has still fallen short of expectations.

More and more evidence is pointing to the theory that Atlanta simply has a Trae Young problem. The Hawks have a losing record all-time when he plays (183-224), and there is absolutely reason to believe he may not be as perfect a fit with this team as originally thought.

The Hawks have a losing record when Trae Young plays

Looking at who Young is as a player, there is of course a lot to like. He was compared to Stephen Curry way back in his pre-draft days, but many have held the belief that Steve Nash was always a more accurate comparison.

An offensive manifesto, Trae lights it up from all over the floor and puts defenders in a blender. He remains one of the best playmakers in the NBA today, and the range on his jump shot is rivaled by only a select few around the association.

But at the end of the day, Young's player archetype is by and large not the type of player that becomes the best player on a championship team. Unfortunately, that type of guy will almost always be a bigger wing (LeBron, Kawhi, Kevin Durant, Giannis) and an undersized guard (Curry) is far and away the exception rather than the rule.

Trae's size significantly limits him on the defensive end, where he is routinely taken advantage of by the opposition. In addition, he constantly needs the ball in his hands to be effective. As such, it is becoming clearer that his talent level is simply not enough to offset his deficiencies, at least in terms of becoming the player Atlanta needs him to be.

There is no question Trae can still be a second option on a championship squad, but the odds he ever becomes a top option for a title-winner seem slim to none at this point. If the Hawks are going to contend for a Larry O'Brien trophy, their process going forward will likely involve either trading Young or getting him to accept a lesser role behind a different star.