4 players who will benefit most from Hawks' Dejounte Murray trade

The Atlanta Hawks' trade sending Dejounte Murray to the New Orleans Pelicans could have a big impact on these four players.
Trae Young, Jalen Johnson, Atlanta Hawks
Trae Young, Jalen Johnson, Atlanta Hawks / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages
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The Atlanta Hawks’ trade sending Dejounte Murray to the New Orleans Pelicans has received mixed reviews. For every compliment to the Hawks’ front office getting a pair of first-round picks and a recent first-rounder in Dyson Daniels, there are notes on how little else the Hawks have done.

There is a strong case to be made for addition by subtraction, though.

Even with Murray coming off a strong individual season, his exit could pave the way for several Hawks players to establish (and even re-establish) themselves on the Hawks and in the NBA.

Trae Young led more potent Hawks attack without Dejounte Murray

One of the overarching numbers from the Hawks’ former star backcourt has come up often to justify splitting them up. The Hawks had a minus-6.3 net efficiency differential when both were on the floor last season, per Cleaning The Glass.

It is worth noting that the Hawks had a plus-1.6 differential with their once-dynamic duo on the floor together for a significantly larger sample size in 2022-23.

More importantly in light of the trade, their differential was better with Young alone than Murray.

The Hawks had a plus-3.1 net differential when Young was on the court without Murray last season. Their differential with Murray and no Young was plus-0.8, though that was also in more than double the possessions. 

That trend was more pronounced during the 2022-23 season. Hawks’ lineups with Young and no Murray fared far better (plus-3.8) than those with Murray and no Young (minus-6.0).

Two years’ worth of data suggests the Hawks made the right decision on who to part with.

Young has posted his second and third least-efficient seasons as a scorer over the last two seasons, posting a 57.3% true shooting mark in 2022-23 and a 58.5% mark in 2023-24. His most efficient season was 2021-22 (60.3%), the year before Murray’s arrival.

Defensive concerns about Young are also valid given his relatively slight stature. But the Hawks’ defensive differential was better when the three-time All-Star was on the floor without his former teammate (119.1) than when they played together (123.0).

Their offensive rating improved too. However, that may be the Hawks’ greatest area of concern following the deal to move Murray.

Young was hounded in the 2021-22 postseason as the lone creator for the offense.

The Miami Heat’s defensive effort in their first-round series that season was a key factor in the Hawks’ decision to trade for Murray, a move both he and Young wanted. With Murray gone, the Hawks risk falling back to square one.