Trae Young has been incredible recently for the Atlanta Hawks, averaging more than 23 points and 9 assists in the month of February. He has played well in March too, until the last two games. After an encounter with the NBA officials, Young seems more docile and needs to get back to having fun.
Trae Young is having a wonderful season. He is currently in a two-man race with Luka Dončić for NBA Rookie of the year. In fact the numbers show that he is on track to become the best Atlanta Hawks Rookie since Pete Maravich. Young has turned his game up to another level since the All Star break. He had been averaging 34.8 points and 10.4 assists per game since the break, coming into a March 3 rematch against the Chicago Bulls. Trae was coming off of a career high against the Bulls in Atlanta, the first game in a home and home series. He scored and amazing 49 points and dished off an incredible16 dimes, for the Atlanta Hawks in the six overtime thriller.
Two nights later in Chicago, Trae Young was lighting up the Bulls once again. Fired up after an incident in which Bulls point guard Kris Dunn smacked him in the head, Young scored 18 points in 18 minutes, as well as handed out five assists. Both Young and Dunn received technical fouls during the incident. Young was rolling, shooting a super efficient 6/9 from the field and nailing 3/4 shots from downtown, when everything changed.
Trae Young made a deep three from just inside of the horn of the Bulls logo, less than three minutes into the third quarter to give Atlanta a 16 point advantage. After making the very long shot, Young stopped and looked a Kris Dunn for a few seconds, to let him know that he was in for a battle all night. Despite the fact that Dunn had his back turned to Young and was looking in another direction, one of the NBA officials saw Young with the stare, and assessed him a second technical foul that disqualified him from the game. Take a look at the incident for yourself, courtesy of ESPN via their YouTube channel.
Trae Young was shocked that he was thrown out the game for such a subtle gesture. His expression told it all, as he raised his hands above his head in utter disbelief. Head coach Lloyd Pierce was equally surprised, as he stood with his hands on his hips and a blank stare on his face. Kit Anderson here at Atl All Day, wrote about the ejection in this article. Despite the fact that Atlanta won the game, Trae was extremely remorseful when being interviewed after the game. He tweeted that playing with emotion and passion is the only way he knows how to play. Take a look at the tweet below:
Despite the tweet, Trae Young has been noticeably more docile over the last two games. He did not talk much trash or show his usual amount of emotion, against the Miami Heat or the San Antonio Spurs. The Atlanta Hawks failed to win either game and Trae did not play well in either contest. Prior to the game in which he was ejected, Trae Young had scored at least 35 points in three consecutive games. He failed to get anywhere near 35 against the Heat or the Spurs.
Trae Young only scored 14 points against the Miami Heat. He was just 4/11 from the field and failed to make a three-point basket in four attempts. He did dish off eight assists, but was also forced into eight turnovers by the Miami defense. Trae also had a tough time against San Antonio. He scored 22 points but was just 8/22 shooting and a paltry 1/7 from behind the arch. He also had only four assist in the game. That was his lowest total since getting just four on January 13, against the Milwaukee Bucks.
It is a valid point that both teams were trapping Trae Young from the moment he passed half court, but Young has been dealing with that style of defense since last year at the University of Oklahoma. The Miami Heat are also a very good defensive team. They rank number two in the NBA in opponents field goal percentage allowed. They also rank third in the league when it comes to allowing the fewest points. The Spurs on the other hand are not near as good defensively as they typically have been. They are near the middle in points allowed, ranking 14. They are in the bottom third of the NBA in opponents field goal percentage, ranking number 21. It also does not help that the NBA officials tossed Taurean Prince in the game against San Antonio, in another questionable ejection.
The return of John Collins will help make defenses pay for double teaming Trae Young. Collins is the best finisher on the team and among the best in the NBA when finishing at the rim. He had missed three consecutive games due to the flu and was on a minutes restriction against San Antonio. Regardless of the opponent, Trae Young needs to have fun on the court like he normally does. He needs to talk to his opponents and play with a controlled passion. When Young is doing these things, he is at his best and as a result, the Atlanta Hawks are at their best. Trae must learn from the Kris Dunn incident and not allow the referees to tone down his emotions and affect his style of play. If Young can get back to having fun, playing with passion and showing emotion, the Atlanta Hawks have a great chance of getting back in the win column, in their upcoming matchup against the Brooklyn Nets.