Twenty-one games in, Hawks rookie Trae Young has had his moments. Barring catastrophic injury to Luka Doncic and Jaren Jackson Jr., and, honestly, some other dudes too, Young won’t be the Rookie of the Year, but he’s been an entertaining strain of semi-bad that you can really get behind.
For entertaining, see: logo-range long bombs. In last night’s 115-113 win over the Heat, Young posted 17 points and 10 assists, including this beauty that took flight beneath the last letter of “Miami”:
In Sunday’s 124-123 win over the Hornets, where Young had 18 points and five dimes, he hit an even deeper look from the ring of Atlanta’s logo:
This is hair-raising stuff, but there are still some extremely grim Trae Young facts that shouldn’t escape your notice. He’s shooting just 25 percent from three, while taking a whole 40 percent of his shots from three. He has already attempted 121 shots beyond the arc. Per Basketball Reference, there are only 19 instances of a player hucking 121 threes in a whole season and shooting worse, and it’s not a pretty list, studded with Andre Roberson, early Barkley, Process-era Tony Wroten and Michael Carter-Williams. While turnovers aren’t so awful an omen for learning point guards, those figures are alarming, too.
But Young is a rookie, just 20 and leaping headlong into on-ball responsibilities much faster than, say, Steph Curry ever had to. He’s shooting 38 percent on spot-up threes, so he can definitely do this in some sense. The deep three is the key to his game, the threat that unlocks the drives that unlock the passes (which have been frequently amazing). It’s going to have to materialize at some point if he is to have the type of career expected out of a lottery point guard. The Hawks are obviously in no hurry to do anything in particular as it pertains to winning basketball games, so Young might as well keep letting them fly.
Young will be tested in the league’s most challenging position. At 6-foot-2 and lacking a Westbrookian spring to his step, he won’t be able to rise up and shoot over guys, and his handle doesn’t quite yet look tight enough to reliably get separation against able perimeter defenders his own age. If Young figures it out, maybe it will be courtesy of his sheer range, as he warps the parameters of a defense even beyond what Curry and Damian Lillard have already done, because they at least got to do it to defenses that weren’t given a generation to get acclimated. He’ll need to be an offensive engine unto himself—not least because he currently sits dead last among 434 NBA players in ESPN’s defensive real-plus minus ranking released Tuesday. One day, Trae Young is really, really going to need all these threes to fall.