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Trae Young bids goodbye to the "next Stephen Curry" label, says hello to a refined mid-range game

The reason behind this evolution hints that Trae is maturing as a leader.
Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young

Trae Young

Trae Young’s 3-pointers from the logo have earned him comparisons with Stephen Curry. It’s a label he hasn’t panned nor fully embraced. After all, it is meant as a compliment, and an upcoming star like Young wants to carve his own history with his play style. This season, the Atlanta Hawks guard is taking this mission up a notch by refining his mid-range game — a fundamental aspect of the sport that’s rarely been discussed in this era.

Another tool

If Hawks fans are a bit weirded out that Young has been taking more mid-range shots than usual, he has a good reason for it. Trae tailor-made his summer workouts to improve swishing mid-range shots. From his observation, this opens up his teammates a bit more.

“I wanted to work on the mid-range, add that to my game, and it gives me another tool, another weapon. Me hitting the mid-range and getting to the middle is the key. If I continue to knock those down, people will have to respect it and maybe it helps my teammates get open looks. I could be more consistent, but the hard work I put in during the summer is paying off,”

Trae Young, NBA.com.

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Stats reveal that 13% of Young’s shots are from mid-range. That’s a remarkable uptick from 5.4% two years ago. It would be interesting to find out if Young has a specific number in mind. But judging from his comments, Trae wants to toss-up middies as often as he can.

Bidding goodbye to the 3-point era?

This development in Young’s individual game could translate to a league-wide evolution. After all, when Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors started winning championships in bunches, teams followed suit by heavily integrating the 3-pointer into their playbooks. Analysts quickly noticed this. They deemed the mid-range game as an extinct art form not long after.

Yet there were a few coaches who did not just ride the wave. The likes of San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich still had the middie in his plays. Note that while the league was jacking up shots from the logo, Kawhi Leonard then DeMar DeRozan — two mid-range assassins — were under his wing.

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, too, believes that the mid-range shot still possesses a lot of value. Spoelstra believes the mid-range will be wide open since defenses have catered their playbooks to stopping the 3-point. And this should be exploited.

Young may indeed be the one leading the charge for the mid-range renaissance. Right behind him is Houston Rockets rookie Jalen Green. The 2021 second overall pick, citing advice from his coaches from an in-game tweak, is working on his mid-range game as we speak. Like Young, Green has observed that having that in your arsenal opens up more opportunities.

This is a development fans and aspiring ballers should keep an eye on. The mid-range game is one of the sport’s fundamentals and was mastered by the likes of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. The game came relatively easier for them because of this. They assaulted defenses and won championships because of this. 

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