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2023-24 Atlanta Hawks player preview: Trae Young

Atlanta Hawks v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

After five seasons as the face of the franchise, Trae Young has learned to truly embody what it means to represent a city and an organization alike. This season should be no different, but slowly he’s learning to share the weight of an NBA franchise that he carries on his shoulders.

“I’m continuing to grow as a leader everyday,” Young had to say this preseason. “I’m about to be in year six. I’ve been through a lot — more than a lot of these young guys. I can be more of a leader. I can give these guys little tidbits here and there. How the season goes. Back-to-backs. How long a season it is. And what’s important.”

This is year two of the Trae Young-Dejounte Murray partnership, and with a new extension for Murray and almost a completely new coaching and training staff behind them, the team is looking to build back towards the playoff success they experienced in 2020-21.

The biggest talking point with regards to Trae’s game is, of course, improvement in his off-ball play this season under a new offensive scheme. We’ve already seen some wrinkles from coach Snyder et al. to bring off screens and use him as a decoy. In this clip below, Young curls around a screen and flows into an easy (for him) attacking position.

“You’ll be able to see this year,” Trae Young responded when asked about the new offensive scheme. “If you watched the Jazz play — one of the guys I hated guarding when I first go into the league was Mike Conley. Whenever he left Memphis and went to Utah, every time we played them I hated guarding him. And I’ve known Donovan [Mitchell] for a while so I knew how tough that offense was to guard. And they had really good players in it too, but being around them, it makes sense.”

It’s very possible that Young puts up lesser counting stat figures this season as compared to last season, when he averaged 26 points and 10 assists per game. But the bet is that making Young more efficient without taking away his aggressiveness will give the Hawks offense an entirely new level to reach in important games.

A player that cerebral about basketball almost certainly will thrive in any scheme in which he’s inserted. And his quick mastery can turn a student of the game into a teacher for the young players that have been brought in this season. Trae Young will still be the team’s engine, to be sure, but his worth on and off the court continues to be equally as invaluable.