The Atlanta Hawks are in lockstep with being .500 for the second consecutive season and some of the opinions about their top stars, Dejounte Murray and Trae Young. In Young’s case,
“Divisive, petulant, controversial,” reads the header for Young’s entry into the rankings (at No. 31 overall) written by The Ringer’s Chris Ryan, updated on November. “And capable of being an offense unto himself.
Ryan’s chief reason? A lack of wins.
“Not to sound like the Heat Culture zealot, but there’s really only one stat that I care about with Trae Young this season: wins,” Ryan wrote. “Now on his third, and most accomplished, head coach in Quin Snyder, Young has to show that he is a consistently winning NBA player who can elevate the Hawks out of post–Mike Budenholzer mediocrity.”
Atlanta made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, albeit unexpectedly, in 2020-21. In the two-plus seasons since then, the Hawks are 86-81 when Young plays.
The Hawks’ record is 93-90 in that span. But they are 7-9 when Young sits, showcasing not only that his impact goes beyond just individual stats but also how durable the relatively diminutive point guard has been.
Ryan noted that Young’s three-point shooting would come around but questioned his leadership.
Young has acknowledged that he is always working to be a better leader. But the most glaring note from Young’s ranking is that it is his second consecutive drop despite leading the NBA in total assists in back-to-back seasons, one of which he also led in total points. Despite his personal growth – which includes defensively – he was seemingly punished for team metrics.
The Ringer’s assessment of Dejoute Murray reads in opposition to Trae Young’s
“Murray’s first year out of San Antonio was a fact-finding mission for a Hawks organization desperate to surround Trae Young with complementary All-Star talent,” wrote Michael Pina
Similar to Young’s admission about his leadership, Murray – who arrived from the San Antonio Spurs with a strong reputation for his leadership – admitted that his first season with the Hawks was a challenge.
“There were times when Murray’s ability to organize a convincing half-court set, rebound like a forward, ransack passing lanes, and drill a reliable elbow pull-up filled some of the gaps Young’s game creates,” Pina continued. “There’s a world where Murray averages a triple-double (he came close in the 2021-22 season) and provides a disruptive force on defense.”
Also like Young, Murray’s ranking (No. 48 overall) fell for the second consecutive time.
The Hawks are 4-4 with Murray and no Young since acquiring the former ahead of the 2022-23 season. Together, the duo is 43-42 while Young is 3-3 without Murray.
That suggests the issue runs far deeper than Young, Murray, or any individual player.
Analyst praises Hawks ‘revelation’ Jalen Johnson
The most encouraging entrant was easily third-year forward Jalen Johnson, who checked in at No. 91 on the list. Currently injured, even rival executives have taken note of the youngster’s progress this season; a trend The Ringer’s Rob Mahoney continued.
“Johnson already looks this comfortable making decisions with the ball reflects well on both his skill set and his understanding of how to use it,” Mahoney wrote. “Johnson defends in much the same way, swooping in to disrupt plays by releasing off his man at exactly the right time. A player like that can be a catalyst.”