Let’s face it Trae Young is going nowhere fast in Atlanta. I know, I also got my hopes up when the Hawks gave De’Andre Hunter that 2-year extension but I’m starting to believe more and more by the day that he won’t ever become the difference maker the Hawks need to take this program to the next level. Why’d they ever give him a 2-year extension in the first place? Beats me, the dude comes out one night scores 27-28 points on great efficiency and the following night he lays an egg and comes out looking like a rookie Giannis. He really does have all the tools to be an all-star and maybe even one of the top 15 players in the game but either Nate McMillan is not featuring him enough due to Murray and Young accompanying a good portion of the Hawks’s offense or maybe he’ll just never become the Giannis/Leonard hybrid Travis Schlenk expected 2-3 years down the road when he drafted him a while back. Do not be surprised Hunter has been a flop, Travis also thought he had the next Paul George in Cam Reddish and now even the Knicks are looking to get off him.
Enough about Hunter, why should Trae Young remain in Atlanta beyond this summer? What happened to the Steve Nash-Amare Stoudemire expectations from Trae Young and John Collins? Collins complained about former head coach Lloyd Pierce orchestrating the Trae Young show now Nate McMillan is head coach and John Collins still doesn’t know his place in Atlanta. Dejounte Murray coming over from the San Antonio Spurs was odd being that I watched Dejounte go mad on the entire league last season practically willing the Spurs into the Play-in-Tournament; I predicted the Spurs making both Dejounte Murray and Keldon Johnson their building block and swinging for the fences this season in an attempt to bring over the highly-touted Victor Wembanyama via the 2023 NBA Draft. Then again Dejounte would have likely had the Spurs in contention for the Play-In as of right now and the Spurs ‘s chances of drafting in the top 5 this coming summer would be scarce.
Trae Young made a marvelous run the 2020-2021 NBA Season when he carried the Hawks all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals where they eventually lost to Giannis’s Bucks; but watching Young dissect the Knicks and Sixers the way he did reminded me of former NBA legend Allen Iverson who was torching everything in his path the 2001 NBA Playoffs and had the entire NBA world in disbelief. Trae Young has practically became an afterthought due to not generating the same level of buzz he did the 2020-2021 NBA season; add on the superstar ascension of Luka Doncic who he was traded for and that all but explains why no one really takes notice of Trae in Atlanta even if he is coupled with Murray who at best is a borderline all-star. And that’s the problem, Trae is surrounded by a cast of young pieces who won’t sprout into nothing special. To expect Trae Young to make it out of the Eastern Conference and carry the Hawks to the Finals in a conference which includes the likes of a Tatum,Durant,Embiid,and Giannis is as far fetched Michael Jordan coming out of retirement to make a run at LeBron’s soon to be scoring record, not going to happen sorry.
So what’s left for Trae in Alanta? Well, he can rot away there for the next 3-4 years and win absolutely nothing but one first-round exit after another or he can pull a LeBron James and put pressure on Landry Fields and Travis Schlenk to get him some real help to compete in the Eastern Conference, oh wait Trae Young is not LeBron James nor does he have that sort of leverage within the Hawks organization. I love the 2 headed-snake of Dejounte Murray and Trae Young, problem is they have no star in their front-court. Hunter and Collins are not stars and I don’t believe a change of scenery would change much for either; they are just super role players at best at this point. Ironic how a former Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins spent practically his entire career in Atlanta putting up hall-of-fame numbers for over a decade and no one even scoffed, we only remember him for how hard he dunked a basketball. I understand glorifying a superstar for uplifting a franchise and never bailing but Trae doesn’t have much to work with.
Sure superstars like former hall-of-famers Duncan,Dirk,Jordan,and Bird and presently Curry and Giannis have grinded it out with one franchise in old-school fashion but they’ve been supplied with the right structure and complimentary pieces to grow and get better year after year. I won’t question Nate McMillan as a head coach because he did a fantastic job leading the then Seattle Supersonics lead by former NBA superstar Ray Allen to a 54-28 record and he has also had success with both the Pacers and the Hawks whom he’s presently coaching. Maybe Trae Young needs to be great instead of settling for 5th-6th place in the point guard hierarchy? Does Trae want to play for the love of the game and aim to make history in Atlanta in an attempt to supplant Luka Doncic who faces a similar murky situation in Dallas or wise up and get off the sinking ship before it’s too late? We shall see, the Hawks have the leverage to acquire the star they need at the trade deadline and quiet the Trae Young trade buzz which is growing louder and louder as the days go by, till next time.