Nate McMillan‘s squad sits with a 9-5 record entering a nationally televised game against the Celtics on Wednesday night. The Hawks have obvious issues that need to be cleaned up. The team’s shooting and bench play must improve, which should happen when Bogdan Bogdanovic returns. Consistency could be a lot better, but getting into the playoffs isn’t the issue when you have two stars like Murray and Young. It’s getting to the Finals that takes an entire team.
That’s the reality when you have two box office players like Murray and Young, who are already must-watch television. The pair might have an argument for the top backcourt duo in the Association, according to Reggie Miller.
“We talked about [Ja] Morant and [Desmond] Bane arguably being…maybe the best backcourt in the league,” Miller said. “But…what about Dejounte Murray and Trae Young in Atlanta? I think they’re giving them a run for their money as well.”
Ja Morant is averaging 29.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists on .480/.403/.782 shooting splits. While his teammate Desmond Bane is averaging 24.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.9 assists on .465/.451/.912 shooting splits. Those are quite impressive numbers.
On the other side, Young is averaging 26.9 points and 9.3 assists per game on the least efficient shooting numbers of his career — .378/.309/.909. But Murray is off to the best start of his career, averaging a career-high 21.5 points to go along with 6.4 rebounds, 7.8 assists, and 2.1 steals per game on .453/.321/.868 shooting splits.
On paper, the edge probably goes to the Memphis duo, and the plus/minus metrics support that. The Grizzlies’ backcourt sports a plus-19.6 net rating, per Cleaning The Glass, compared to the Hawks pair at plus-8.4.
However, there’s an argument for the Atlanta backcourt being the best, considering how dynamic both players are. Young can score with the best of them — I do believe his shooting numbers will improve — and Murray isn’t too far behind. Both playmakers are electric with the ball in their hands and consistently get their teammates open shots. In fact, they’re the first tandem in NBA history with at least 300 points and 100 assists in a team’s first 14 games.
To further Miller’s point, Bane and Morant have been playing together exponentially longer than Young and Murray. With some more time to gel together, who knows what the Hawks tandem will accomplish.
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