The Hawks are off to a 5-3 start after a nail biter in Mexico City against the Magic.
Trae Young had 33 points in the first half and finished with 41. He also fed Dejounte Murray for a go-ahead three-pointer with 30 seconds left to give Atlanta a 120-119 victory over Orlando.
Jalen Suggs led the Magic with 21 points followed by Paolo Banchero, who had 17 and missed a game-winning three-pointer in the final seconds. Jalen Johnson continued his impressive stretch of play, adding 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting to go with nine rebounds. Murray added 16, and Bogdan Bogdanovic came off the bench with 15.
The Hawks look like they’re still figuring out their chemistry as Quin Snyder experiments with lineups and an emerging star in Jalen Johnson. But the good news is the Hawks are 5-3, and Trae Young still hasn’t really found his shot.
Coming into Thursday’s contest, which was by far the best performance of Young’s season, Atlanta’s superstar was off to a career-worst shooting (33.6%), while Dejounte Murray was off to the best start of his career, averaging 22.6 points on 50% shooting from the field.
It’s a small sample size, but things look good for Snyder’s Hawks, including a couple of pleasant surprises. The Athletic’s early surprise is the play of Dejounte Murray:
Dejounte Murray: The Hawks were one of the league’s best offensive teams in the first two weeks, despite Trae Young being off to a career-worst start shooting (33.6 percent). Murray is the biggest reason things are working. Entering Thursday, he was shooting 50 percent from the field and averaging a career-high 22.6 points and 6.1 assists per game. There are going to be lingering questions about how well the Young-Murray backcourt will develop long term, but the fact that Murray signed an extension and surprisingly bypassed expected free agency indicates how committed he is to making it work in Atlanta. — Jeff Schultz
I don’t think Dejounte Murray being off to a hot start is the biggest surprise of the Hawks season, but that’s not a wrong opinion. He’s been a revelation and is showing that his three-point shot isn’t a weakness; in fact, it might be a strength before this campaign is over.
My brain went to other players — Trae Young and Jalen Johnson. The biggest surprise has to be JJ if we are talking good surprises. Somehow, this kid didn’t play much of the last two seasons but is showing he has the potential to be a difference-maker. He’s averaging a tick under 15 points a game on 64.6 eFG% while adding 8.9 rebounds per game. It won’t be long before he’s considered the third-best player on the team if already isn’t.
On the other side of things, Young’s slow start is a big surprise. With Quin Snyder, everyone expected Young to come out with his hair on fire. Unfortunately, his shot hasn’t quite fallen, outside of the 41-point performance in Mexico City. He’s averaging 24.1 points and 10.1 assists per game on a career-worst 35.6% shooting from the field and 28.8% from deep.
You could look at this as a positive. The Hawks look good, and their best player hasn’t been playing his best ball. Things are only going up for this club.
Photographer: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire