Hawks: What has happened to Trae Young?

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The Hawks came into their opening round series with the Boston Celtics as massive underdogs, and they’ve looked the part through two games. Following a blowout loss in Game 1, Atlanta came out of the gates the more energized team in Game 2, jumping out to a double-digit lead. However, that didn’t last for long.

By the end of the first quarter, the Celtics had retaken the lead, and by halftime, they were the ones up double digits. Their lead was stretched to over 20 points at times during the second half, cruising to a 2-0 series lead, as the teams head to Atlanta for Game 3 Friday night.

The Hawks finding themselves down 2-0 after two games in Boston is far from surprising. It’s what most everybody expected to happen. However, it’s the way the games have taken shape that should be disappointing for Hawks fans. The Celtics have suffocated Atlanta defensively, particularly Trae Young, who just hasn’t looked like himself in the playoffs since his magical run in 2021.

Young finished Game 2 with 24 points and six assists on 9/22 shooting from the field and 2/8 shooting from behind the arc. It was far from the best version of himself, but it was actually one of his better playoff performances in recent memory. Over his last eight playoff games, Young is shooting an unsightly 31.7% from the field and 17.5% from three-point land. He’s averaging just 16.4 points and 6.6 assists over that stretch, which is nearly half as much as his career averages.

It’s difficult to point to just one thing as for why Young has struggled so much during the playoffs. A lot of credit has to be given to the defenses of Boston and Miami as well as the strategies used against him. But this is a man that made his name in the postseason, earning the nickname Ice Trae and becoming the King of New York. Young was heralded for his ability to rise to the occasion, but since that 2021 playoff run, he’s looked like a more poor man’s Brandon Jennings every time the postseason rolls around.

It doesn’t help that his peers aren’t exactly impressed with his skill set, either. In a recent poll from The Athletic, Trae Young was voted the most overrated player in the league by the players.


I’m not here to argue whether Trae Young is or isn’t the most overrated player in basketball. Frankly, I hope this adds more fuel to the fire and propels the Hawks point guard to keep improving his game. However, it is impossible to ignore what is right in front of us.

Young has been almost unplayable in the playoffs, and the Hawks as a whole have massively underachieved with him as their leader over the last two seasons. 2021 is now a distant memory, and it’s well past time to question whether he has what it takes to get this team over the hump. Young may not be the problem in Atlanta, but he certainly has not been the solution.

Photographer: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire

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