From the opening tip of Atlanta’s 127-117 win against the Philadelphia 76ers Thursday night, Trae Young looked like a man on a mission, notching 14 points and 10 assists during one of the most impressive first quarters of his young career.
The first-time All-Star starter, whose 18 assists marked a career-high, finished with 39 points and likewise dominated post-game conversation in the visitor’s locker room at State Farm Arena.
Fellow All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, as well as 76ers starters Shake Milton and Tobias Harris, weighed in on Young’s growth and what makes his skillset so difficult to defend.
Head coach Brett Brown similarly lamented the challenges of defending a player of Young’s caliber during his post-game press conference with reporters.
Brett Brown on the biggest defensive challenges Young presents:
“I mean just trying to judge the attention you give him. You give him a ton and people reap the benefits of that. They get behind the defenses; they squirt out and get open looks. …I thought our young wings struggled tonight. He’s difficult to guard.”
Tobias Harris on Young’s ability to take over a game:
“I mean every time we play against him he dominates the game. He did tonight. You’ve got to give him credit. He makes plays, gets to the free-throw line. He makes reads. He gets downhill. You game plan for him and when you’re out there you really have to focus everything on him. Tonight he just carved us apart from the start. …He sets the tone. He’s a great player. From the beginning of the game, he gets to the free-throw line then you’re kind of forced to get your hands away from him. He just carves you up, really. Gets downhill, throws lobs, makes the right reads off help. He was their whole offense today.”
Shake Milton on guarding Young:
“When you got a green light like that, you have somebody who’s not really scared to make mistakes and they’re playing with a lot of confidence. He’s a quick guard. He can really shoot the ball. He can really pass the ball, too. He has a lot of intangibles that make him hard to guard. We made some mistakes with our communication and he was able to get off to a good start.”
Ben Simmons on Young’s growth and defending him at half court:
“I think we were too focused in on what Trae was doing. He’s a great player. He was able to find his guys and make plays as a point guard. …He’s just getting more consistent. He’s obviously been working, stays with his work. He just believes in it.”
Joel Embiid on defending Young in the pick-and-roll:
“Their pick-and-roll hurt us especially because of their point guard. He’s such a capable shooter so he puts you in a bind of helping on him, and if you do, he’ll throw a lob, and if you don’t, he has a pretty good floater.”