The Atlanta Hawks put together a (very) strong showing in back-to-back wins over playoff-bound teams in the Utah Jazz and the Philadelphia 76ers. Though a team-wide effort was required to produce those wins, the team’s offensive engine received an impressive piece of recognition on Monday, when rookie point guard Trae Young was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for the period covering March 18 through 24.
Young was flanked by James Harden in the Western Conference and his numbers were very strong during the three-game week that also included a loss to the Rockets. The former Oklahoma star averaged 25.3 points and 11.3 assists per game while helping to lead Atlanta to a 2-1 record, and Young converted 45.5 percent of his shots from the floor and 35 percent from three-point distance.
On the surface, it wasn’t necessarily expected that Young would win this time around but, when taking other factors into account, the award falls into place. First, Young converted the game-winner against the Sixers on Saturday and, in that nationally televised contest, he produced 32 points and 11 assists to key the victory. Beyond that, the fact that both wins came against quality competition is worth remembering (as is the fact that he notched 20 points and 10 assists in each of three games) and, earlier in the season, Young was snubbed in controversial fashion for Player of the Week honors.
For reference, Young averaged 34.8 points and 9.8 assists per game over a four-game stretch in early March and appeared to be a shoe-in for the award, especially when considering his 50.6 percent shooting and 55.9 percent from three during that time. However, the Hawks finished “only” 2-2 and that seemed to be impetus behind Young not being awarded at the highest level, even if that was relatively silly in retrospect.
While it would be easy to argue on his behalf in either case, Young notching his first victory in this category (and the first for the Hawks since Paul Millsap in 2016) is undoubtedly fun and, considering the winner in the West is a no-doubt MVP candidate, he’s keeping good company.