The Hawks are going to be one of the most thrilling teams to watch this season and make no mistake about it – it’s because of John Collins and Trae Young – both of whom landed on ESPN’s Top 50 players for the upcoming season.
Collins, who came in at #47 on the list, had a somewhat under the radar rookie campaign but burst out in his sophomore season with Trae Young running the point. The two were a match made in heaven. Young is already one of the best passers in the league, and Collins is a bouncy big that can catch an alley-oop from anywhere on the court. But Collins proved he was more than just a dunker in his second year, expanding his game to include the three-point shot. He shot a hair shy of 35% on 2.6 attempts per game, and he will tell you he has a lot more in store for year three.
You could argue over whether or not Collins was rated too low, but from what he’s proven thus far, I think it is about right. There are certainly some players in front of him that are head-scratchers. The fact that Jayson Tatum is ranked #35 despite averaging four fewer points, four fewer rebounds, and shooting 11% worse from the field makes no sense, but is more proof Tatum remains one of the most overrated players in the NBA.
Trae Young was ranked as the 28th best player in the league – quite a different tune from ESPN than the 0% of experts that picked him to win the Rookie of the Year award. In the second half of last season, Young was far-and-away the most electric rookie on the floor, averaging nearly 25 points and ten assists. While his scoring is what he was known for in college; it’s his passing that separates him from the rest of his peers.
As a rookie, Young finished with the second-most assists in the entire league. Whether it is between the legs, behind the back, with his right or left hand – Young is a maestro with the basketball and already one of the most exciting players to watch. Thinking back to where he started last season and where he finished, the sky is the limit for this 21-year old rising star. 28th on this list is a respectable place for him now, but I expect to see him much higher – possibly even near the top 10 – in 2020.