After impressing in college as an Oklahoma Sooner, Trae Young picked up where he left off and took the NBA by storm as the Atlanta Hawks’ franchise cornerstone.
In his first four seasons with the Hawks, Young has already made his mark in the organization. The 23-year-old has been the team’s top scorer in the last three campaigns, having relied on the wide array of ways to score the basketball in his arsenal. In the process, the point guard earned his first All-Star appearance in 2020 as a sophomore.
Interestingly, Young continues to improve his game, especially his three-point shooting, which he has gradually refined from 32% in his rookie season to 38% this year.
However, newly-hired Hawks assistant coach Nick Van Exel, who was also known for being a versatile scoring point guard during his playing years, sees some room for improvement in Young’s game.
Young is good, but he could be better
Shortly after officially joining the Hawks’ coaching staff this past summer, Van Exel opened up about his thoughts and impressions of Young.
According to “Nick The Quick,” Young is already an exceptional player, but he certainly needs to work on “managing” his talent. Van Exel stressed that his idea is to help Young learn how to smartly take control of the game.
"Trae does a lot of good things on the court,” Van Exel told Sports Illustrated’s FanNation. “And there are things that he can definitely improve with. That's managing games. We've been trying to work on how to manage games."
"We'll watch it, and he may see things on the film that he didn't see in the game, which is normal,” he continued. “That's every player that ever played in the NBA. Once you see it, you get a better feel on where your outlets are, the pick and roll situations, advancing the ball quicker, giving your players a chance to attack the basket quicker in transition... Definitely trying to improve defensively, just being in the right spots. Having more of a sense of urgency now because people are looking at this team a lot different because what they did last year - there's a lot at stake now."
As a newcomer in the organization, Van Exel is well aware that his job won't be a walk in the park, especially when we’re talking about a two-time All-Star in his prime like Young.
At this point, the 50-year-old emphasized the importance of earning Young’s trust. Fortunately for Van Exel, his pupil has been open to working with him thus far.
"You have to build the trust first,” the one-time All-Star pointed out. “I don't know Trae. I just knew Trae from afar when I used to come to games during my scouting. So you have to build trust with players. You have to be genuine with players. You have to know what you're talking about. I'm in the stages of just building the trust with him. He's very receptive, though."
Young certainly has a long way to go and only time can tell if he and Van Exel can gel together in Atlanta.