The Hawks capped off their five-game west coast road trip yesterday with a win over the lowly Phoenix Suns. As has become the norm for Atlanta when they play well, John Collins and Trae Young led the way.
Collins tied his career-high of 35 points in his typical ultra-efficient manner, going 13-20 from the field. He also finished just one rebound shy of his career-high of 17 rebounds. Collins’ production has become a staple of Atlanta basketball and his consistency as a scorer is something the Hawks have not seen since Joe Johnson was around. You have to go back all the way to November 28th to find a game where Collins did not record double-digits in points, which is remarkable for anybody, but especially a second-year player and first-year starter that is shooting a hair shy of 60% from the field.
It’s a shame that Collins missed a large chunk of games to start the season, and the Hawks are one of the least talked about teams in the NBA because his name undoubtedly deserved to be among the Eastern Conference All-Star reserves. But that’s a story for another day. Let’s just say the John Collins All-Star snub revenge tour is off to a thunderous start.
Trae Young was not under All-Star consideration, but his recent string of play shows there will be plenty of All-Star games in his future. Over this Western Conference road trip, Young has been the star of the show, averaging 26.8 points and 8.2 assists while shooting 53.5% from the field and 42.9% from three-point range. Also, keep in mind this came during an absurd five-game stretch over a period of seven days. If there truly is a rookie wall, Young is bulldozing right through it.
Young hit a rough patch in the month of November – where he shot 35.5% from the field and 19.8% from behind the arc – but if you take out that month, he is putting up Rookie of the Year caliber numbers, even with Luka Doncic in the race. After winning Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month again for January, Young is off to a blazing start in February, averaging 27.5 points and 8.5 assists a game. It’s clear he has found his footing at the professional level and is starting to bring it every night. Hopefully, he will be able to build off this successful road trip as we approach the final third of the lengthy NBA season.
The Hawks head to Washington to play the Wizards on Monday before finally returning home to take on the Raptors Thursday night.