Coming off an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Atlanta Hawks had high hopes for this season, looking to build on their playoff momentum, however, at the midpoint of the season, they find themselves on the outside looking in.
Sitting at 17-25, good for 12th in the standings, the Hawks hope to replicate last season’s late surge that saw them climb to the fifth seed and put in a strong playoff effort.
The Hawks, like many teams, have struggled for roster consistency this season, due to injuries and COVID-19 health and safety protocols, however their one constant this season has been top-level performances. Trae Young All-NBA.
Sure, they’re not winning many games, but Young’s offensive displays make a strong case for him being the best point guard in the Eastern Conference.
Through 38 games this season, Young is fourth in scoring behind Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James and Kevin Durant, averaging a career-high 27.6 points with a career-best 45.4 shooting numbers. percent from the field and 36.5 percent from deep on 7.4 attempts per game. .
He is also currently tied with Kevin Durant for the fourth-most 30-point games this season (15), behind Joel Embiid (16), Giannis Antetokounmpo (17) and LeBron James (19). While his 9.3 assists per game is third in the league, behind only James Harden and Chris Paul, his overall influence on the Hawks’ offense is nothing short of immense.
With Young on the floor, the Hawks boast a 115.5 offensive rating., compared to just 101.5 when sitting down, a full 14 points better with his guard running the show.
Not only is Young performing at a high level for the Hawks, his numbers are putting him at an all-time high. The 23-year-old is coming off a streak of 17 straight games scoring 25+ points, breaking Dominique Wilkins’ franchise record. by Halcones PR.
In December, he became the first Hawks player to record five consecutive 25+ point and 10+ assist games. The last player to do so was Russell Westbrook in his 2016-17 MVP-winning season, by Halcones PR. Young also leads the NBA with 14 25/10 games — the next closest player in the NBA has five of those games.
Now put that in a historical context.
In NBA history, there have only been 14 other instances of a player averaging at least 27.0 points and 9.0 assists over the course of a full regular season. by StatHead. Young did it in just his second NBA season in 2019-20 and appears on track to do it again this round.
Oscar Robertson did it eight times between 1961 and 1968, while Tiny Archibald is the only other player to do it more than once achieving the feat between 1971 and 1973. The other three players on the list: Russell Westbrook (2016-17) , who was named MVP that season after averaging a triple-double, and James Harden (2016-17) and LeBron James (2017-18) finished second in MVP. voting in their respective seasons.
The Hawks are out of the East playoff picture, hovering under .500, keeping Young out of the MVP conversation for now. On Sporting News’ recent MVP ladder, he didn’t make the cut, but if the Hawks repeat the second half of last season, don’t be surprised to hear Young’s name thrown into the mix.
A possible starter at the All-Star Game in Cleveland in February, Young trails only DeMar DeRozan in fan voting among Eastern Conference shooting guards.
During his exciting 2021-22 season, he has broken away from the guard pack in the East. Ben Simmons has yet to play a game this season for the 76ers, while Kyrie Irving just returned after missing much of the first half of the Nets’ season. Kemba Walker has had his problems in New York, while Jrue Holiday, Lonzo Ball and LaMelo Ball are on the bottom tier.
When you go through the list, Young stands alone as the best point guard in the East right now and perhaps his only real competition in the league is Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Damian Lillard, Luka Doncic and Ja Morant, who is quickly putting his name together. with the best point guards in the league. But when you look at the big picture, there’s no denying that Young has every right to feel like a top-five point guard, and based on his numbers, a top-10 player isn’t that far-fetched.