These days, when people talk about the true superstars in the NBA, the discussion is largely centered around men such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid and Luka Doncic.
He had an amazing season this year, and even though the Hawks couldn’t duplicate what they did last year when they reached the Eastern Conference Finals, Young was clearly a force to be reckoned with.
Is Young getting shortchanged when people talk about some of the best players in basketball?
Young Had His Best Season Yet In 2022
In his first three seasons in the NBA, one of the knocks against Young was that he wasn’t the most efficient scorer around.
During that span, he shot just 43.1 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from 3-point range.
But this season, he stepped things up.
The Oklahoma native averaged 28.4 points per game, which was fourth in the league and just a hair behind Doncic while hitting a solid 46.0 percent of his shots and a strong 38.2 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.
Young is also a fantastic facilitator, as he put up 9.7 assists a game this year, good enough for third in the league.
In fact, he led the NBA in total points and assists, as he appeared in 76 games during the regular season, and he was sixth in made 3-point shots.
For those who love analytics, Young also managed to have the sixth-highest PER in basketball at 25.4.
Early in the season, he put up 42 points on 16-of-26 shooting and 10 assists in a big win over the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks.
Trae Young went off in the win vs the Bucks 🥶
8 Threes (7 in 1st half)
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) November 15, 2021
Then in February, he had 43 points on 16-of-25 shooting as Atlanta defeated the top-seeded Phoenix Suns.
A cold-blooded shot from Trae Young to ice the game 🧊
◽️ 43 PTS
◽️ 6/11 3-PT FG
◽️ 5 AST
The Hawks end the Suns' 11-game winning streak.
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) February 4, 2022
Young has a little bit of Curry in him, as he can get as hot as anyone from downtown and hit shots from several feet behind the line.
It seems strange that someone like him isn’t being discussed as one of the best in the game, but there may be a simple reason why.
The Knock Against Young
After the Hawks got to the conference finals last year, some were expecting them to again be a dark horse team in the Eastern Conference.
Instead, they won a mere 43 games and went out in the first round versus the Miami Heat in five games.
Critics would probably say that Young hasn’t elevated his team above the sum of its parts the way a superstar is supposed to.
They may point to what Doncic did this season in leading the Dallas Mavericks to an upset over the Suns in the second round, which was a bigger upset than the one Atlanta had over the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round last year.
The counter to that, of course, is that Young just doesn’t have that much of a supporting cast and that Dallas won 52 games compared to Atlanta’s 43 wins this season.
Dallas also became a fine defensive team this year, while the Hawks finished a weak 26th in defensive rating.
It would be interesting to see what Young would do with a strong supporting cast in the years to come, especially come playoff time.