When I made my Bold Predictions for the 2023-24 NBA season, it went against my better judgment to go glass-half-full on the Atlanta Hawks. Deep down, I don’t believe in them as serious team. I have made no secret of my Trae Young doubts over the years.
But it was supposed to be bold predictions, so I took a shot. The 41.5 win total felt low for a team that won 41 last season as something of a mess under Nate McMillan for most of the year, so I called the over a lock with Quin Snyder now calling the shots. Then I got even bolder and picked them to finish as a top-five seed in the Eastern Conference.
Suffice it to say, neither call is looking good so far.
The Hawks are 0-2 with losses to the bad Hornets and so-so Knicks, and Young is off to a disastrous start. The counting stats look OK: 23 points and nine assists in the opener, 18 and 12 on Friday. But don’t be fooled. Young has looked awful with 27 missed shots, 11 turnovers and, as usual, some of the most disinterested defense imaginable.
Honestly, look at this effort:
Somehow, RJ gets around the intense, lockdown defense from Trae Young pic.twitter.com/Wm2zK0NtWQ
— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) October 27, 2023
That is an absolute joke from a guy who tries to wear the face of a franchise player. As long as that is the example being set, the Hawks aren’t going anywhere but back to the play-in. Embarrassing.
And that wasn’t an isolated example. Young was a turnstile all night. He got cooked off the dribble, and he lazily lost track of shooters.
What is this defense by Trae Young? Quin Snyder 👀 pic.twitter.com/z0mbQgKHSq
— DJ (@DJAceNBA) October 28, 2023
At the end of the first half, Young chucked up a brick with five seconds still on the clock, and then, rather than run back on defense, stood bouncing on one leg, holding his errant follow through, as RJ Barrett raced past him for a buzzer-beating dunk on the other end.
BAD MAN BARRETT LOCKS UP TRAE THEN SLAMS IT HOME🤯 pic.twitter.com/MF1YmwgWi1
— Knicks Lead (@KnicksLead) October 28, 2023
Again, this would be embarrassing effort even if Young were cooking offensively. But when he’s dividing his time fairly evenly between throwing up bricks and throwing it to the other team? It’s entirely unacceptable.
Trae Young went crazy tonight🔥👀 https://t.co/rpW6FN4CVl pic.twitter.com/Zu1J32WxoX
— Teg🚨 (@IQfor3) October 28, 2023
It isn’t helping matters that Young’s backcourt mate, Dejounte Murray, is 11 for 31 to start the season, including 0 for 6 from 3. Snyder wants the Hawks firing more from deep than they did under McMillan; unfortunately they’re at 28% as a team from deep so far.
If you want a silver lining, Jalen Johnson has been awesome. Other than that, this has been a horrific start for the Hawks, and specifically for Young, who at some point is going to need to answer the question as to whether he can lead a serious, contending team.
Come to think of it, maybe he already has answered that.