The Hawks are entering a new era after the club swung a deal that landed them Dejounte Murray, giving Trae Young the first All-Star teammate of his career. Atlanta has made a concerted effort to get better defensively but also acquire another ball-dominant outlet so defenses can’t blitz Young all game , like the Heat did in the first round of the playoffs. Murray helps in both aspects, but Ice Trae will have to assume a bit of a different role — off-ball. Enter Brandon Payne, who can be seen in the background of a training video Young posted:
I mean the world’s in denial , but they all know where I’m headed for #UpANotch ❄️ pic.twitter.com/HGvMQiwA9T
— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) July 20, 2022
Payne has been Stephen Curry‘s personal performance and skill coach for over a decade, and the pair have done great things together, evident in four NBA championships.
If you’re wondering why this is relevant, look no further than Curry’s ability to dominate games on and off the ball. Young averaged 28.4 points and 9.7 assists per game last season while shooting a 38.2% clip from three-point range, but he did all of that while being one of the most ball-dominant players in the Association, constantly ranking among the top five in usage rate.
Curry’s trainer will be able to give Young insights into becoming a focal point of the offense without the ball in his hands, similar to how Curry plays. The possession split between the two All-Stars will be a story for much of the first part of the season, prompting many to spout off how this backcourt duo won’t work. However, Young has plenty of experience and had success playing off-ball. It’s something he can do but hasn’t necessarily had the opportunity to at the collegiate and pro levels.
Photo: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire
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