One month ago, Trae Young deservedly earned unanimous first team All-Rookie honors and, a few days prior, the Atlanta Hawks point guard was announced as a finalist for the 2018-19 NBA Rookie of the Year award. Since then, a lot has transpired in NBA circles, including a very busy draft for the Hawks. Still, the league’s major awards were not handed out (for reasons passing understanding) until Monday evening, more than two months (!) after the regular season came to a close. In the end, Young finished as the runner-up for ROY honors, with Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks winning the award and Deandre Ayton of the Phoenix Suns finishing in third place.
While Young did not land the trophy in this instance, the 20-year-old put together a debut season that was more than worthy of accolades. Young was the winner of four NBA Rookie of the Month awards for the Eastern Conference and, by mid-season, it was clear that the ROY race had only two contenders. The former Oklahoma guard averaged 19.1 points and 8.1 assists per game while taking the floor every night (81 appearances) and Young’s work in clutch situations was wildly impressive from beginning to end.
19.1 PPG | 3.7 RPG | 8.1 APG— NBA (@NBA) June 23, 2019
Ahead of 2019 #NBAAwards Monday (6/24) at 9pm/et on @NBAonTNT, relive #KiaROY finalist @TheTraeYoung's BEST PLAYS of the 2018-19 NBA Regular Season! https://t.co/aLvk9dO0u0
Beyond the raw production, Young enjoyed an uptick in efficiency as the season progressed, finishing with a 17.0 PER and 54 percent true shooting. When the lead guard was on the floor, Atlanta’s offense functioned at a (very) high level and, even at this early stage, Young has been able to bend opposing defenses with the threat of his long-distance shooting and his elite-level passing acumen.
Ultimately, voters didn’t crown Young as the top rookie for the 2018-19 campaign but, in many seasons, he would have been the clear winner of the award and the way he performed over the full, 82-game schedule — at a very young age in a challenging role — should bring comfort to Hawks fans. Now, the focus shifts to 2019-20 and beyond, with the Hawks in a fantastic (and flexible) position and Young in the center of it all.