As Trae Young packed up his belongings from his locker after Atlanta’s loss to Indiana in the season finale, the NBA rookie seemed exhausted from not just the game, but also the questions on whether he should win the 2019 NBA Rookie of the Year Award.
Earlier in the season, Young was the epitome of his nickname “Ice Trae,” cold as ice, mired in a 6-50 slump from the three-point arc, and the Hawks were on a 10-game losing streak, the thought of him winning Rookie of the Year was laughable.
“He’s too small” or “he’s not strong enough” are criticisms of Young, but he turned his season around and, thankfully, his Hawks coach and teammates were happy to speak up on his behalf. Here are five reasons Young should be the 2019 NBA Rookie of the Year.
“He’s meant more to us than I think any other rookie has meant to their team, and he’s done more for us than any other rookie has done for their team,” Atlanta head coach Lloyd Pierce said of Young, who missed only one of the team’s 82 games. “We want him to win the award, and I think he’s very deserving.”
4. Difficulty of the point guard position
“Just to see the growth, the struggle in the beginning and the work ethic that he has and him working on his game in the fire, which is not easy to do,” NBA OG Vince Carter, whose locker was beside Young’s, said of the rookie. “And I’ve talked, tirelessly, about how the point guard position is one of the toughest to come and take control of.”
“I feel like you’ve seen his progression,” teammate John Collins said as reasons Young should win NBA Rookie of the Year. “I feel like his growth, not having any prior professional experience, him coming in, having somewhat of a rocky start, and then him exploding.”
“I think Trae should win it because he’s doing a good job of leading this team,” Omari Spellman said. “I’m extremely proud of the way that he played the second half of the season.”
1. Second-half stats
Young was one of the NBA’s best the second half of the 2018-2019 NBA season, dropping 24.8 points while dishing out 9.2 assists per game. Those numbers led the Hawks to go into the final game of the season second in the NBA after the All-Star break in points per game (119.3 points), three-pointers made (349) and three-pointers made per game (15.2).
Young needs to work on his strength, and it is something Coach Pierce and baller himself know. “Trae needs to get stronger,” Pierce said after the game.
The rookie can’t wait for fans to see his physical transformation either. What will a stronger, more experienced Young, who had 30 double-doubles, do next season? Atlanta fans should look forward to viewing his transformational growth.