ATLANTA — When the Atlanta Hawks were kicked out of the bubble last summer, Trey Young worked at home.
He watched games on television, tweeted candidly about what he was missing, and long imagined what it would be like to play a truly important role in the NBA.
Now he has got his chance.
Talk about rising to the occasion.
Young joined an extremely rare group of point guards and guided the Hawks to a 3–1 lead in their opening-round playoff series against the New York Knicks.
Atlanta will try to wrap it up in Game 5 at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, where a fan spat at Young as he was in New York for the last time.
No worries on Young’s part. It just shows how little he has gotten under the skin of the Knicks and his fans.
“I love it,” Young said. “It’s a fun series.”
He became the fourth player in NBA history to score at least 25 points and 10 assists in his first four career playoff games.
Others: Oscar Robertson, Kevin Johnson and Stephen Curry.
The 6-foot-1 Young has confused the Knicks with a dazzling array of moves and dice. When they land in the street, he will rise up to the jumper. When they crowd him from outside, he will lead him on the hoop. When others are open – and the Hawks have plenty of shooters – the Young Deliver pass is in every way imaginable.
“He doesn’t really have any weaknesses,” Hawks interim coach Nate McMillan said. “He takes what the defense gives him.”
As good a shooter as he is – Young’s range is almost inside the half-court line – his passing is perhaps even better.
He surprises even himself at times.
Young said, “I always know in my mind where I want to go with the ball. Sometimes, it gets me out of the way. A few games ago, I passed Tony back and forth Was (Snell) in the corner. I knew where I wanted to go with it. I just hoped it got there. The fact that it got there, I was so out of it.”
The charismatic Young never shied away from the limelight, making it clear from the day he arrived in Atlanta that he aspired to be the face of a team that has been largely a forgotten NBA outpost.
Even though the Hawks made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2017, most of the hype was on the Knicks—a major franchise in the league’s biggest media market that ended its own eight-year post-season drought.
The role of the underdog suited Young. He often worries about how the Hawks are overlooked, from his lack of appearances on national television to being passed over for a spot in his home city at this year’s All-Star Game.
“We’ve been insulted and overlooked a lot this year,” Young said.
With Young as the centerpiece of a massive overhaul, the Hawks went 49-100 during their first two seasons in the league. Last year, after the season was called off due to the pandemic, Atlanta was one of eight teams that did not participate in the Disney World bubble.
It was difficult for Young to see.
“I started training from day one when everyone got into the bubble and started playing,” he recalled. “Staying home late at night, watching those games, watching all those playoff games, seeing people in play-in games. They were just playing (the last few regular-season) games, it was frustrating for me. I wish I could Would have done more to help the team get there. Being here now means a lot to me. And that’s just the beginning.”
Young is picking up new fans with every great performance.
Following the Hawks’ dominant win in Game 4, Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas took to Twitter to quip.
“She’s the real deal,” wrote Thomas. “let it be known!”
Macmillan has worked with Young to cut back on his business. After averaging 4.14 per game during the regular season, he has dropped the ball only 11 times in four playoff games.
“He is showing growth in managing and running a team,” said the coach. “He has to cut down on turnover. He’s great for a passer-by to do five or six turnovers in a game. Two is fine. But five or six is a big number for a guy who gets to pass along.” – Passes as well.”
Young was selected fifth out of Oklahoma in 2018, going to the Hawks in a draft-night deal that sent All-Star Luka Doncic to the Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta a future first-round pick (known as a replacement for Cam Radish). was used). .
It’s a trade that is still hotly debated around the league, but no team is complaining about what they ended up with.
Never mind, Young and Doncic will certainly remain connected for the rest of their careers.
That’s not an issue for Young.
He welcomes meditation. Wants it, really.
“I want to do something special,” he said. “I want to be different. It’s a fun opportunity, a really fun platform to do that.”
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