The Atlanta Hawks have been one of the more pleasant surprises this entire season, as they are one win away from reaching the Eastern Conference Finals. Who could have imagined that in the middle of the season, when the Hawks struggled to achieve some consistency. But after the firing of Lloyd Pierce, their new head coach Nate McMillan brought a breath of fresh air and helped them turn around things, going from a 24-30 team out of the playoff picture to a 41-31 record and the #5 seed. But the main reason for their turnaround has been their young star Trae Young.
Trae was expected to take a leap this season, but that wasn't the case initially, as he stagnated and failed even to make the All-Star game. But after the coaching change, Trae stepped it up and ended up averaging 25.3ppg and 9.4apg, proving to be the unquestioned leader of this young Hawks team. But one move at the trade deadline also proved to be working, as the Hawks managed to get Lou Williams in exchange for Rajon Rondo.
"Sweet Lou," provided a much-needed scoring punch from the bench and, even more importantly, a veteran presence, oozing leadership and providing mentorship for their young players, especially Trae. As both Trae and Lou stepped up their games in the playoffs, the veteran shared only kind words for the young point guard:
"He's a monster. This dude is a monster. It'll be one of those things when I look back when he's a hall of famer, an established superstar in this league and I can say I was a part of that process and I worked with this gentleman. Seeing Trae up close and the things that he's able to accomplish and the things he's been able to do on the floor night in and night out at such a young age with the poise he has, the swag he has, the confidence he has and his abilities, I'm just proud to be a part of it. He listens to me and I try to help him as much as I can with little tidbits. Just seeing him night in and night out, I'm extremely happy for him. I'm proud of him and I'm happy to call him my teammate."
Lou Williams, via Chris Kirschner
Very high words and praise from one of the best "bucket-getters" the NBA has ever seen, as Trae Young has shown in this playoffs that he will be a star in this league for years to come. The Hawks have a chance at home to bounce out the favorite Sixers and advance to ECF, but they will need Trae to lead the way and his superb supporting cast with Bogdanović, Collins, Capela, Lou, Huerter, and more to give their all. It will be a fun Game 6 in the "Highligh Factory."
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