Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young is in his 5th year in the league, averaging 27.6 points, 9.6 assists in 40.8% shooting from the field, and a career-low 29.6% from the 3-point line. He's led the Hawks (13-11) to the 4th seed of the Eastern Conference, but recently, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported that there's tension between Young and his coach, Nate McMillan.
Since Charania's report surfaced, there's been uncertainty around the Hawks locker room, and it further begs the question of whether Atlanta can break through this season. They made a huge splash in the offseason by acquiring All-Star guard Dejounte Murray to provide Young some help. That's why the pressure and spotlight are on Young this season to carry his Hawks back to the promised land.
Bill Simmons and Ryen Russillo don't believe in Young's leadership.
When discussing Young's situation in Atlanta, The Ringer's Bill Simmons and his co-host Ryen Russillo agreed that Young is not a franchise cornerstone they would like to build their team around. In the latest episode of "The Bill Simmons" podcast, both analysts said that they would rather select 8 current guards below the age of 30 over Young — namely Devin Booker, Ja Morant, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (SGA), Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton, Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, and even Desmond Bane.
The reason for Young's dropoff, according to Russillo, is his liability as a defender and leader. Simmons also believes that Ice Trae, a Klutch Sports client, has an extremely expensive contract in exchange for what he brings to the table, which is why it's harder to build around him. Both analysts don't think Young is any better than those 8 guards mentioned above when it comes to playing winning basketball.
Has the Trae disrespect gone overboard?
Simmons and Russillo made fair points by saying that Young needs to improve as a defender and leader. A true team leader shouldn't be in the news this early in the season, especially if it involves locker-room drama. However, putting Bane, Haliburton, and even Garland ahead of Young (someone that's already made it to the Eastern Conference Finals) is head-scratching. Young may not be an elite point guard yet, but he's proven that he can lead his team in the Playoffs and be a reliable scorer — something those 3 players haven't done.
This season is extremely important for Trae, who now has his Robin beside him. There is no more excuse for him not to meet expectations. The Hawks are off to a good start this season, and only time will tell if their point guard can finally break through and prove that he is, indeed, a winning franchise player. The first step in that direction is gaining the trust and respect of the locker room - something he doesn't seem to have right now.