While Mavericks forward Luka Doncic is getting a lot of hype as a second-year superstar tearing up the league, Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young is having a star-making season, too. Despite this, every time Young produces a memorable triple-double, naysayers criticize him over the Hawks’ abysmal record.
While winning is what matters most in the NBA, some see these judgments as unfair. With Young making the All-Star game as a starter, this criticism has only grown louder.
Trae Young’s 2019-20 season
Young’s rookie season would’ve qualified for Rookie of the Year contention most seasons. He not only scored 19 points per game, but he shared the ball like a veteran playmaker with eight assists, too. The raw player’s defense and shooting needed improvement. But at just 19 years old when entering the NBA, Young had boundless potential.
Fast forward to the 2019-20 season, and Young is playing like a proven veteran. He’s putting up 29.5 points per game, throwing nearly nine assists, and even grabbing almost five rebounds a game.
Although his defense is still a question mark, the former Oklahoma Sooner’s shooting has gotten five percentage points better. It is the type of season that, individually, is typically reserved for the NBA’s best players. Despite these great individual numbers, Young’s team is struggling to win games.
Through their first 47 games, the Hawks have not performed well. They stand at a 12-35 record despite some believing they could be a playoff squad. This has fueled the fire among some fans and media, with many claiming that Young has to win to be a true star.
Criticism for Trae Young
One leader of the anti-Young brigade is The Ringer‘s Bill Simmons. Never one to mince his words or stifle his opinions, Simmons used his podcast to criticize Young as nothing more than a stat padder who won’t do what it takes to get his team a victory.
“Trae Young is the guy you’re playing pick up with, its a game to 11 you’re down 9-2 and then he makes 4 threes in a row and brings you back,” Simmons said per Fadeaway World. “You still lose and then [Trae] feels great and everyone’s like, eh, I’ll sit out next game.”
This is a common criticism of players on losing teams. Rather than acknowledge that a good player is stuck in a bad situation, people point out that individual numbers don’t mean anything if a team isn’t winning. While a version of this argument makes sense, it also ignores the bigger picture.
Is Trae Young a problem?
In some ways, Young could be seen as a player like Tracy McGrady when he was still with the Orlando Magic. McGrady, who played alongside several weaker players, often had monster nights on teams more likely to win the draft lottery than a playoff berth. People held this against McGrady, much like they do with Young.
Young is still just 21 years old. While he has veteran help from Vince Carter, a player more than twice his age, much of the Hawks’ roster is still young. Forward John Collins has missed more than half of Atlanta’s games, and Cam Reddish has underperformed. A look at the Hawks’ roster on most nights shows that Young isn’t holding anyone back; he’s keeping the team in games and performing while others don’t.
If Young was in his mid-twenties and hasn’t started winning, it could be a concern. But, at just 21, he’s still figuring out his game. Young needs to play as well as he can while also learning how to win. He still has plenty of time, and despite his naysayers, he is doing inarguably impressive.
Follow more updates from Sportscasting on our Facebook page.