Trae Young earned the second All-Star selection of his career in 2021-22, finishing in the top three in the fan, media and player votes. This season is a different story.
The 24-year-old found himself at No. 5 among Eastern Conference guards in the latest fan voting returns behind Kyrie Irving, Donovan Mitchell, James Harden and Jaylen Brown. He likely won’t get enough votes from the fans or media members to jump into the starting pool.
But hey, Young could just be an All-Star reserve, right? Maybe not.
While the Hawks guard has once again posted impressive counting stats, a deeper look at Young’s play and the bigger picture in Atlanta shows why he may not be a participant in this year’s festivities.
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Trae Young is not the same offensive force for the Hawks
In 2021-22, Young averaged 28.4 points and 9.7 assists in 34.9 minutes per game. In 2022-23, he is averaging 27.4 points and 9.8 assists in 35.7 minutes per game. Those basic numbers scream All-Star.
However, Young’s shooting percentages have seen significant dips across the board. It doesn’t matter where you go on the floor — the ball isn’t finding the bottom of the net at the same rate as last season.
|Trae Young shooting||2021-22||2022-23|
|Above the break 3||37.4||33.3|
|Step back 3||40.9||28.6|
And it isn’t as though Young has suddenly started shooting less frequently. He is averaging 20.3 field goal attempts per game, which is identical to the mark that he had last season.
His usage percentage is also essentially the same (34.4 to 33.4). Only Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid and Ja Morant currently have a higher usage percentage than Young. He hasn’t been nearly as effective as any of those players or others in the All-Star conversation.
That is partly why the Hawks have dropped from second in offensive rating in 2021-22 to No. 22 in 2022-23. There are other factors, of course, but Young is among the league leaders in time of possession, average seconds per touch and average dribbles per touch.
Young is the engine of Atlanta’s offense, and through the first half of the season, the engine hasn’t been working that well.
Trae Young is once again hurting the Hawks defensively
Young is often at a disadvantage as a defender because of his size (6-1, 164 pounds), but plenty of guards have been able to challenge opponents despite their small statures. Chris Paul (6-0, 175 pounds) and Patrick Beverley (6-2, 180 pounds) once earned spots on the All-Defensive First Team in the same season.
The bigger issue is that Young is simply unwilling to try on that end of the floor. As The Ringer’s Michael Pina noted, these types of possessions happen far too often.
When Young is on the floor, the Hawks have a defensive rating of 113.1. When he is sitting on the bench, that number goes down to 108.8. That’s the difference between the Grizzlies and Hornets.
When comparing Young to any other All-Star candidate, there is no reason to even begin debating defensive impact. If the other guy is trying, then he automatically wins.
The Hawks are light on wins and heavy on drama
Consider some of the recent storylines that have come out of Atlanta:
That’s a lot of drama for a team that is currently in the Play-In Tournament with a 22-22 record. Young isn’t carrying the Hawks to victories, so he can’t lean on team success as an All-Star tiebreaker. In fact, Young has been at the center of a lot of these ugly headlines.
Young can still turn his season around and help Atlanta move up from No. 9 in the East standings, but unfortunately for him, he may not have enough time to make a late All-Star push.