Does Trae Young need to ‘level up’ as a professional to effectively lead the Hawks?

Yahoo Sports Senior NBA Reporters Vincent Goodwill and Jake Fischer discuss the status of the Atlanta Hawks and star Trae Young under new coach Quin Snyder, and debate if Young needs to step up his maturity in order to effetely lead the Hawks franchise.

Video Transcript


VINCENT GOODWILL: What do we think of Trae Young going through two coaches in a shortened period of time? And with some of the things that we've heard about his reputation, his closeness with ownership, some of the guys in Atlanta not being happy in the locker room. I feel like all of this is like, in a big old pot of jambalaya. What say you?

JAKE FISCHER: Similar to the Ja Morant situation, in that-- when all your eggs are in your basket of your superstar and you've given him the super max, you have believed that this guy is the guy to build your franchise around, and you need to then construct your roster around their shortcomings. That's the part that's similar to Ja Morant. Atlanta has made their bed with Trae Young at this point.

Sure, could they turn it around this summer-- and people on the league are certainly whispering about it, keep an eye on Atlanta, maybe they trade Trae Young this summer. I don't believe that's going to happen, barring some pretty particular circumstances. Where him and Quin Snyder just don't get along, and they've invested all this money in Quin. And he's going to have a say in front office decision making and player personnel.

But I think ultimately, the Hawks have made this bed with him. They recognize that he is a defensive liability. That's why they wanted to-- that's partially why they wanted to pair him with Dejounte Murray in the backcourt. And the idea that he's a coach killer, and all this type of stuff, players don't want to play for him-- I'll say this, people in Atlanta have been talking behind the scenes about the need for him to level up as a professional.

To be more mature, to lead by example. As much as he talks, and he's got the bravado that you want-- I mean, to go back to the Knicks series two years ago. Like, honestly I was impressed by how he went into that arena. And bowed at half court, and played up to the character of--

VINCENT GOODWILL: He was the villain. He was the villain.

JAKE FISCHER: And like, the league needs that. And honestly, you need that type of swagger to be able to lift the franchise on your shoulders. That being said, the Giannis's, and the Steph Curry's, and the Damian Lillard's, and I believe the biggest reason why Victor Wembanyama is such a fascinating prospect. That ability to be the guy, while also-- that main character energy, I think is best exhibited when you're able to look at all the supporting characters and say, this is how you can have your episode where you're the star of the show.

Because you don't need-- you know you're the main character. You know you can carry a plotline. But you can't get to a championship, you can't get back to the Eastern Conference Finals, even, without having moments where-- on that team, you know, Danilo Gallinari took over long stretches. And John Collins has his time to eat, and feed Clint Capela on pick and roll lobs, and stuff like that.

But on a more macro level, there's just been a lot of conversation about the need for Trae Young to not do things like just not show up when him and the coach have a disagreement about whether or not he's healthy enough to play. And it's happened on multiple occasions, I believe, from conversations I've had. Where he just didn't show up to a certain team function, or sit on the bench when he was supposed to.

And that type of stuff, like, what the franchise superstar does, and what he gets away with, that trickles down. That, I believe, was the biggest factor of why Gregg Popovich would always say stuff like, Tim Duncan runs this franchise. Tim Duncan makes it so easy. Because he did, because he showed up, he was allowed to be coached harder than everyone else. And it set the standard moving forward down the line from 1 through 17 now that we've got two-way contracts. So that's, I think, the biggest situation here moving forward.

VINCENT GOODWILL: And here's the other part about it, Jake. When you're a franchise that has not had a lot of success in the mainstream, and the last superstar you had you traded away in 1994--

JAKE FISCHER: Al Horford wasn't a superstar to you?



And you trade away Dominique Wilkins in 1994, and you feel like you got yourself a superstar now. You're going to do everything you can to try to cater to that star. And they're going to be very protective of that star, especially a new ownership group. So you have to be very, very careful. Similar to Memphis, but in a little different way. Because you can see that the players in Memphis are at least protective of Ja Morant. I don't necessarily-- I haven't been down to Atlanta to talk to the guys or anything like that. I've only seen them once in person this year, and it was on a back-to-back situation where I saw them twice in two days.

So I don't think that's necessarily the greatest test of those things, especially early in the season. But there is a difference, and it does look like maturity. It does look like experience on Trae Young, that he has to recognize the value-- not just the power-- but the value that he has to an organization, the value that he has to a locker room.