Hawks' Trae Young delivers reality check about his critics

Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young offered a bit of a reality check to critics of his style of play after the win over the Toronto Raptors.
Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young
Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

The Atlanta Hawks (10-14) got a revenge win over the Toronto Raptors on December 15, atoning for their 135-128 loss with a 125-104 victory two nights later.

They got a significant boost from Trae Young’s 38-point outburst.

Young added 11 assists, five rebounds, and a steal. But he was also efficient, shooting 51.7% from the floor and going 7-for-15 from beyond the arc, including some of his customary tries from the logo.

To most, those shots may look like desperation heaves or wasted offensive possessions. They aren’t heaves to Young, though. 

“It's a rhythm thing,” Young said via the team on December 15. “A lot of people don't want me to shoot it. I mean – or when it doesn't go in, people don't want me to shoot it. But when it goes in like it does tonight, people love it.”

That approach is a good one to take for a player under constant scrutiny for his style of play. But it is one born out of necessity.

“It's something that I've been doing since I was in high school – maybe even middle school because I was always on the wing and I was smaller than guys,” Young said. “So I had to scoot my range further and further out while guys got taller. So when I shoot deep shots, it's not necessarily out of my range. It's kind of, I mean in some ways, more comfortable for me.”

You’ve seen the graphic. 

The one from a couple of years ago with visualized statistical evidence backing Young’s sentiments on those shots not being out of his range.

“I have space and I can see the rim,” Young said.

“I just know I need to bend my knees a little bit more to maybe get some more distance on the shot. But in some ways, it kind of helps me because I can see the rim more than when I get closer to the three. And then their bodies are a little closer to me and I got to shoot up over them. So sometimes it's good for me to shoot those.”

Because of the nature of his game – mostly a healthy mix of deep shots and floaters – Young’s average shot distance ranks just 77th among all qualifiers, per Basketball Reference. And the Hawks rank 10th in average shot distance as a team.

But the impact of his deep shots is undeniable. 

Teams have to guard him, even if he doesn’t otherwise seem to have it going on a particular night.

That is another defender out of the paint. And, if the play is in transition or some other cross-match situation, Young might find himself with two defenders on him. His logo look versus Toronto came with the aid of big man Clint Capela.

The effort was Young’s 14th time with at least 10 assists this season. But his greatest assist came after the game when he gave the game ball to rookie Seth Lundy who made his debut and scored his first points in the NBA.

Hawks’ defense steps up with bounce-back effort

Atlanta’s defensive effort has to be commended as they held the Raptors to 32.3% shooting from beyond the arc. 

Toronto isn’t a great three-point shooting team, hitting just 34.2% of their deep looks entering the contest. But the Hawks still held them below that and well below the 38.1% mark they had allowed to opponents coming in.

Two nights after the most efficient three-point shooting display the Hawks have allowed this season, Atlanta’s defense held the same opponent to the seventh-worst shooting night they've allowed all season.

Next up for the Hawks is another today tilt, this time against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland comes I'm riding a three-game losing streak.