All-Star Analysts

Answering the Question: Is Trae Young actually good?

Published December 18, 2022, 6:00 PMDiego Dario
Diego Dario

NBA.com Philippines All-Star Analyst Diego Dario shares his two cents on the performance of Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young this season.

You might ask, “Why is this even a question?” Trae Young is an All-Star and one of the best point guards in the league. This season, Trae has had a season-highs of 44 points and 16 assists. Obviously, only high-caliber players can produce numbers like this.

Compared to previous seasons, Young has had a tumultuous start in 2022. It’s the first time that he’s playing with another All-Star guard in Dejounte Murray – someone who shares a similar skillset offensively, but offers a massive changeup in terms of defensive potential.

Despite having another facilitator on the team, Young is somehow attempting more shots (from 20.3 per game last season to 21.3 this season) and shooting a career-low of 40.8 percent from the field (from 46.0 percent last season) and 28.5 percent from 3 (from 38.2 percent last season). It’s easy to chalk this up to an early adjustment period for the Hawks, but we’re already more of a third of the way through with the season.

Recently, there have also been reports that Trae Young and Coach Nate McMillan aren’t in good terms. The dispute apparently stemmed from Young’s unwillingness to sit at the sidelines for a game he was set to miss, but further reports have revealed that there has been some tension even between Young and his teammates.

There could be different reasons for Trae’s performance this season.

Minor injuries

Young has had his fare share of bouts with nagging injuries this season. The source of his dispute with McMillan was a shoulder injury that caused him to miss one game. He’s also had to attend to some minor lower body injuries. He’s only missed three games in total this season, but these little injuries tend to stack up and could be the driver of his early slump.

Dejounte Murray

Murray recently suffered an ankle injury that will see him in street clothes for at least two more weeks. The Hawks have some personnel to fill the void with Deandre Hunter and AJ Green showing a knack for scoring. But the Hawks, despite the growing pains between Young and Murray, have been at their best when both share the floor.

Many questioned this tandem before the season because these two players need the ball to be effective on the court. Between the two, Young has the talent and skillset to adapt his game and become an effective weapon. It’s frustrating to watch the Hawks continue to run isolation ball with him and Murray on the floor, but they have added a few wrinkles to their offense. 

Murray is a good spot-up shooter, but he’s way more effective when he has the ball. Young, on the other hand, has the tools to emulate Steph Curry – the player the Hawks envisioned him to be when they drafted him over Luka Doncic in 2018. He’s done some promising things off the ball like screening and moving, but the Hawks need to turn this into more of a concept in their offense, rather than just an afterthought. There should be more efficient looks for Young. They can't afford him being a 40-percent shooter.

So far the Hawks are at ninth in the East and adjustments with his co-star could be the main cause for his performance.

Just a slump

Trae has a knack of getting hot and giving the fans amazing stretches of basketball in the second half of the season. I guess we need to chill. This has been the case in the past two seasons. Young tends to pick it up right around December and New Year, just in time for All-Star balloting.

All I know is Trae Young led the league in total points and total assists last season. He is also a phenomenal player. It is almost impossible to play in the NBA with his frame and size and to produce at a consistent rate on a yearly basis. He has unlimited range, speed that kills, and is one of the best passers in the league. 

I don’t think we should question him being a good player in the NBA. Trae Young is a villain. He remembers the doubters from high school and all the way to the NBA. It’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when Trae Young will prove everyone wrong and give us Ice Trae performances. 

All-Star Analyst Feature
Philippine basketball personalities offering their insights on relevant NBA topics specially tailored for Filipino fans.