The Atlanta Hawks kicked off their summer activities in Utah by catching a loss against the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night, 103-88.
In a game the Hawks never led, Tyler Dorsey led the scoring effort with 18 points while rookie Trae Young added 16 points.
For the Grizzlies, Jaren Jackson Jr. starred with 29 points — including eight three-pointers — while Kobi Simmons added 21 points.
Trae Young’s struggles
The big talking point from Monday night (besides DeMarcus Cousins) was that Trae Young struggled in his first game as an Atlanta Hawk — 16 points on 4-of-20 shooting and 1-of-11 from three.
With a performance like that, there’s always going to be an overreaction — such as ‘Did the Hawks screw up by passing on Jackson?’ and ‘Oh God, what have we done?’ — and Jaren Jackson Jr. simultaneously lighting it up in the same game doesn’t help in that regard.
But it’s always important to stress — and this would’ve been the same case if Young had exploded — that it’s just one game, so it’s probably unwise to overreact or worry.
Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce certainly isn’t.
“...Excited for Trae, he got 20 shots up,” said Pierce via Michael Cunningham of the AJC. “He can get his shot off. He’s going to make a lot of shots. We’re going to be fine.”
“Last thing I want him doing is second-guessing. I want him to shoot with confidence.”
Tyler Dorsey is equally unworried about Young’s slow start.
“He’s a big name. He’s a top guy,” said Dorsey of Young. “They are going to come at him. He just needs to play his game. No need to panic.”
Young tried as he could to shoot his way out of his slump but nothing was doing from behind the arc last night. Shooters shoot, and sometimes they just don’t go down. Generally speaking, Young had some good looks but left a lot of them short. Whether it was just a bad game, adjusting to the altitude... it was just a struggle.
Young did see a decent bit of defensive pressure which didn’t help:
The majority of Young’s scoring came from the free throw line and at the rim, this layup was easily the most eye-catching play from Young last night:
A lil somethin' somethin'. pic.twitter.com/iMQI3zFZh1— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) July 3, 2018
It wasn’t the start Young wanted but hopes to carry the good momentum from the second half into today’s game against San Antonio.
“I didn’t want a game like this but overall this is all a process,” said Young postgame via Michael Cunningham of the AJC. “This is the first one, it’s Summer League. I felt a lot more comfortable in the second half. Hopefully I can carry that over to tomorrow and just keep going, keep getting better each and every day — that’s my main thing...”
Young revealed postgame that coach Pierce expected a tough shooting night.
“He expected this — a bad shooting game for me ... he knows my shots going to fall eventually, I’m not too worried about it. It’s just one game...”
Young was able to get to the rim a few times but his best impact on last night’s game came from passing the ball — he only had three assists on the game but he set up some very nice looks.
Here, Young drives and does a great job to set up Omari Spellman for the dunk:
Get used to this, folks. pic.twitter.com/aPtTesEqAl— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) July 2, 2018
In the second half, Young drives from the wing, floats inside and finds a beautiful pass to the corner to find Jaylen Adams for a three-pointer:
Court vision pic.twitter.com/T9Ts2msr0i— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) July 3, 2018
“That’s the main thing, said Young postgame. “When my shot’s not falling I got to do other things...”
Young and Collins teased a potentially fun combination as Young finds Collins for a three-point attempt as the trailer, but Collins can’t convert on this occasion:
“That’s his strength,” said Pierce of Young’s playmaking. “That’s going to be his blueprint. We just couldn’t get him in enough pick-and-rolls early on.”
Young, at least I thought so, had some good moments defensively.
In the corner, Young plays nice, tight defense and forces the turnover in the corner:
On the next defensive possession, Young moves his feet well to stick his man — even if he’s bodied a tad at the end — and John Collins completes the defensive play by coming up with the steal:
A defensive specialist coming over from Philadelphia, Lloyd Pierce definitely noticed Young’s effort on defense last night.
“...He was happy how I played on the defensive end,” said Young to the AJC. “I competed, I made a lot of steals, really worked hard on the defensive end when my shot wasn’t falling — that’s a great sign. He was telling me how proud he was of that...”
Despite missing 16 shots, there were good things that Young did last night as you saw and he did play a much better second half. Of course there’s going to be a knee-jerk reaction when a guy who you passed on, like Jackson, goes off and your player struggles but let’s not get carried away when it comes to Young — just one game.
Three-pointers for days
The NBA has obviously shifted more so to the perimeter in the last few seasons and almost every team has tried to go along with it. The Hawks embraced it a bit more last season than in the past with Mike Budenholzer and it seems to be a similar focus under Lloyd Pierce, who was very happy the Hawks took 40 three-point attempts last night.
“Excited that we shot 40 threes because that’s what we want to do, get them up,” said Pierce postgame, via the AJC.
We didn’t really hear a lot of Pierce’s offensive ideals at his introductory presser but it seems that shooting the long-ball is high on that list.
However, Pierce will hope the Hawks make more than nine/shoot better than 22% from three in the future as was the case last night...
The Hawks (1-0 in Utah Summer League) are back in action on Tuesday against the San Antonio Spurs as the Summer League grind continues.
Should be fun... Until then...