Hawks: Trae Young among the most clutch players in playoffs

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The All-NBA honors were announced last night, and Trae Young wasn’t a member of any three of the teams. He finished 11th among guards in the vote despite finishing the regular season third in the league among guards in assists and 10th among guards in scoring — totaling as many or more wins as four of the players who finished ahead of him. The narrative that Young couldn’t play winning basketball has been nixed now that the Hawks and 76ers are tied 2-2 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Atlanta has largely ridden Young during the course of the playoffs, especially in late-game situations.

Young dropped 18 dimes in the Game 4 win against the Sixers, many of which came at critical times in the game. Although he’s only in his third year and his first postseason appearance, Young is already among the most clutch performers in the league. Clutch time is defined as the last five minutes of a game when a team leads or trails by five points or fewer. While individual moments and shots can sway our perception of a player’s success in clutch time, the numbers don’t lie.

All statistics are from NBA’s advanced statisticsĀ 

Since Young is in the midst of his first playoff run, it only makes sense to look at the clutch statistics from 2020-2021. He has participated in four of such games this postseason, winning three and losing only one. Ice Trae ranks 10th in clutch scoring per game (3.8 points per game), behind only two players with teams still alive in the playoffs — Khris Middleton (4.7) and Kevin Durant (4.3). Young’s four games in clutch time this postseason is also the most among those top-10 in clutch scoring.

What’s even more impressive is Young’s playmaking ability down the stretch, which he displayed in the 18-assist win in Game 4 against Philly. He ranks tied for fifth with Jrue Holiday in clutch assists per game (1.3), and surprisingly, the four players ahead of Young — Julius Randle, Nikola Jokic, Jimmy Butler, and Dennis Schroder — are all on vacation right now.

Trae Young is playing fantastic basketball even when his shot isn’t falling because he’s one of the best passers in this league. Now, on the biggest stage, Young is performing among the best in clutch time. Only two players left in the playoffs are scoring at a higher clip per game in clutch time and only one has the same assists per game in clutch time. He’ll continue to get snubbed and doubted until he eventually wins a championship, but in time, I believe that moment will come too.

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  1. Pingback: Sixers find a way to blow a 26-point lead in monumental game 5 collapse

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