Young entered the locker room for halftime 0-8 from the field and 0-3 from three in his first game back from the ankle injury he suffered last Tuesday. He also didn’t have his favorite target, John Collins, who was suspended today 25 games for PEDs, but that didn’t stop him from leaving his fingerprints all over the Hawks first matchup with the Spurs.
In the first quarter, Young racked up six assists, most of them to Jabari Parker for easy layups and dunks. He had eight at halftime with one turnover and finished with thirteen. The scoring drought would end in the second half. Young made his first two buckets – both floaters in the lane to get himself going and a deep three followed. With six minutes remaining in the third, Young quickly had himself his first double-double of the season before exiting for the remainder of the quarter.
The Hawks still trailed by eight entering the fourth, but their star point guard was only getting started. He began the quarter with a three-pointer and put up another one a minute later to give the Hawks a one-point lead with over ten minutes to play – a position they wouldn’t have been in without some phenomenal efforts from their supplementary pieces.
Jabari Parker picked up the slack for John Collins, feasting on Young’s passes around the basket, but he also made some critical plays in the paint on his own, finishing with 19 points and 8 boards. His acquisition has been a glaring bright spot for the Hawks through the first six games. It’s just too bad he can’t be apart of Atlanta’s second unit until Collins returns. Parker along with the improved DeAndre’ Bembry and Kevin Huerter/Cam Reddish would have created an exponentially better bench than the Hawks had a year ago.
Speaking of Bembry, he was once again his impactful self, particularly defensively in this one, racking up three steals and a block, leading to several easy buckets that turned the tide in the second half. The other De’Andre – De’Andre Hunter – was spectacular on both ends of the floor. He scored 16 points on 6-13 shooting while collecting eight boards. Cam Reddish added 12 points and was 3-3 from beyond the arc.
But make no mistake about it, this was the Trae Young show. Even on a 30-minute restriction, which the Hawks held true to, he took over the game, scoring 28 second-half points to go along with his 13 assists, including this beauty.
He was a walking highlight reel down the stretch, featuring beautiful passes like these, three-pointers from all over the gym, and don’t forget that floater, as the Hawks pulled away to a 108-100 victory.
Young is playing with a confidence like few others in the league. He’s not just good; he’s one of the best players in the Eastern Conference already. Hawks announcer Bob Rathbun ended the broadcast with this quote, “I’m telling you Atlanta, you have a budding superstar on your hands.” I’ll take it a step further – remove “budding”. Trae Young has arrived. This is who he is, and if the Hawks are going to keep their playoff dreams alive without John Collins, he is going to have to be the best player on the floor more often than not, which suddenly seems not so far-fetched.