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Atlanta Hawks roundtable: Should Trae Young begin the season as the starting point guard?

Beginning a new series.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks-Press Conference Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

In the dog days of August, fresh NBA content can be sparse but Peachtree Hoops cuts through the silence for an off-season roundtable series centering on the Atlanta Hawks. Part one focuses on whether rookie Trae Young should be the starting point guard from day one and our staff weighs in with a variety of viewpoints.

  • Brad Rowland - I lean toward throwing Young into the mix immediately. While I would argue that (a healthy) Jeremy Lin is better than Young at the moment, I believe that allowing Young to grow with sizable playing time is the best course of action, even if he struggles early. That isn’t to say that Young would be freely granted a dominant starter role in perpetuity but, with all things equal, leaning into the future while allowing Young to play through issues is my preferred course of action, even if it comes at the expense of short-term team success.
  • Glen Willis - If they had not traded for Jeremy Lin, I would have said that, from a marketability standpoint, it would be next to impossible not to start Trae Young from the first game. But Lin might be the only backup point guard in the league that they could use for a while as a starter with Young playing off of the bench. In short, I don’t think there is an obviously correct answer to this question. They should do whatever they believe is in the best interest of Young’s development. I do think it’s important to have a workload limitation for Young this year. He’s so undersized and needs to get much stronger. I would maybe limit him to no more than 1800 minutes this year in an effort to reduce the likelihood of an injury that could set him back in terms of his development.
  • Graham Chapple - I’m in two minds about this one. On one hand, yes, Trae Young should absolutely begin the season as the starting point guard because, well, the Hawks aren’t exactly looking to win games and there’s no reason not to throw Young in right away. On the other hand, it might be better to bring him off of the bench as to ease him in and build his confidence against second units and maybe by December or January insert him into the starting lineup. We (collectively) saw how Young struggled at times in Summer League and in one sense you want him to learn from his mistakes and struggles but on the other hand you don’t want to see him struggle… It’s a hard one, but from a confidence and ‘adapting the the NBA’ perspective, I lean (very slightly) towards bringing Young off of the bench but wouldn’t waste too much time inserting him into the starting lineup.
  • Greg Willis - Yes, there is no reason not to start him from the beginning of the season. The only other option is Lin and he is returning from and injury and has not yet proven he is ready to return to starter’s minutes. The Hawks invested heavily in Young when they traded down to take him with the fifth pick. The team is not expected to be competitive this season. Add it all up and you find no reason to play him off the bench rather than starting him.
  • Jeff Siegel - I wouldn’t give the starting job to Young on Day One unless he’s clearly earned it in camp and preseason. Assuming he’s fully healthy, Lin is a significantly better player than the current version of Young and while the team isn’t exactly worried about putting the best players on the floor at the moment, having a strong foundation at point guard is important for the growth of the rest of the team. I think the best path is to wait and see how things go through the first month of the season, giving Young time to acclimate to the NBA game and work out the kinks in his game. I’m also not one to hand top draft picks starting roles until they’ve earned it, so that may be coloring my evaluation of the Young-Lin debate.
  • Josh Lane - If Young shows that he is capable to play at an NBA level in camp and preseason, then I say go ahead. While Lin is probably the better player right now, I think it is important to have Young play with those that will possibly be on the next great Hawks team.
  • Rashad Milligan - Yes. The Hawks went all in on Young in the offseason. The franchise decided that he was their guy, so from night one, he needs to be their guy. There is no reason to wait to throw him in the fire from the jump. The concerns about his size holding up against other NBA players were very similar to the, wait for it, concerns that Stephen Curry had, who ended starting in his debut. Lloyd Pierce needs to let Young figure it out on his own like he did in the Summer League and the sooner the better. Starting him from the beginning of the season is a risk but so was trading down for him in the first place. If the franchise wants to be bold, let the franchise be all the way bold. There’s no need to play the conservative game now.
  • Sam Meredith - Whether Young or Lin is the starter on day one for me all depends on Lin’s health at this juncture. This is a player coming off basically a season and a half of missed games due to various injuries. Right now, Lin is the better player and the guy you would start if you’re trying to win games (which the Hawks are not). Young is the guy you start if you believe it would help his development. For me, Young is the guy that would get the nod right now. You don’t draft someone in the top five just to get him bench minutes on what appears to be a 25-win team. That, as well as Lin’s questionable recent health history, would lead me to lean towards working Lin back in slowly off the bench and possibly building up his value for a deadline deal as he gets stronger.
  • Xavier Cooper - I think it makes complete sense for Trae Young to start right away this season. I believe holding rookies back was a small mistake Mike Budenholzer made during his time here. I get the fact that he wanted young players to earn their minutes and learn from observation. But at some point, you just have to throw young guys out there and allow them to gain experience by doing what rookies do and that’s make mistakes. I would rather Trae Young know exactly what he’s getting into from the beginning. A complete season as a starter in his rookie year allows him to fully understand what’s needed to compete with players like Russell Westbrook and Steph Curry. Going up against players like Shelvin Mack on a nightly basis and killing him on the offensive end could give Young a false sense of confidence. Plus, he’s a top-five draft pick. You usually don’t see those guys sit on the bench unless injured.
  • Zach Hood - I think Young should start right away given his surroundings and Atlanta’s general plan of rebuilding through the draft. Young possesses elite court vision even by NBA standards, and with the club not looking to contend this year, I think he’d best be served by learning on the fly with a high volume of opportunities much like he did at the University of Oklahoma. He’s not going to grow taller or become a better defender on the bench, so I think throwing him into the fire, so to speak, is for the best.