Last night, the Hawks overcame a 17-point deficit behind Trae Young‘s 21 third-quarter points. Atlanta’s superstar point guard totaled a season-high 38 points but did so behind 19 trips to the line, converting 13 free throws. There has been some chatter about what the NBA Competition Committee intends to do about players like Young, who draw so many shooting fouls. From Chris Kirschner of The Athletic,
Young has established himself as one of the NBA’s leaders in drawing fouls. He has been fouled on 17.2 percent of his shot attempts and 3.7 percent on non-shooting plays — both marks are above the 90th percentile, according to Cleaning The Glass.
It is clear that getting to the line is a major part of Trae’s game, but he isn’t doing anything that James Harden hasn’t done. Against the Nets, Trae frustrated players and coaches to the point where Trae’s mentor and first-year head coach Steve Nash shouted that wasn’t basketball.
"That's not basketball" – Steve Nash
Trae Young was drawing cheap fouls and Steve Nash was tired of seeing it, not being able to do anything about it. Coach Nash had to have a word with this ref. Talk heavy coach. #WeGoHard – @Keith_McPherson pic.twitter.com/tMEbkSD6Ga
— Talkin’ Nets (@TalkinNets) December 31, 2020
And now that Harden finds himself in Brooklyn with Steve Nash, what will Nash say to Harden drawing similar fouls? “That’s not basketball, sorry.” No, he’s going to cross his arms and pace on the sidelines with a smirk on his face. Trae had this to say from the same Athletic article in response to Nash’s comments.
“I saw that it blew up and everyone was talking about it,” Young said of Nash’s comments. “I bet if I was playing for Steve, he’d be happy. It’s something in the midst of competition that he was wanting to win, and I was wanting to win, and I’m gonna do whatever it takes. I think him wanting to get in the refs’ ears a little bit was just trying to help him. I learned a lot about drawing fouls from him. If he says it’s not basketball, he must’ve been saying it about himself because he’s done it a couple of times throughout his career and was so successful.”
Young is absolutely right. It is one of those situations where you love the player if he’s on your team but hate him if he’s not. He isn’t breaking or skating by any rules. He is aware of the verbiage in the rulebook and uses it to his advantage, understanding exactly what he can and can’t get away with.
Trae had a minor six-game slump where he didn’t reach the line much, but his offensive abilities stretch far beyond just sinking free-throws. He doesn’t need to draw fouls to impact his team positively, but it is a nice weapon to have when the shots aren’t falling. Either way, until the NBA’s Competition Committee announces some changes, Young’s play will stay the same.