Trae Young has never lacked for confidence.
It was that way after his first Summer League game in Utah, where he missed his first 10 shots, including going 0-of-7 from three with a couple of airballs. He looked overmatched and overwhelmed. He had the right mindset, “My shot’s going to fall, my shots going to fall eventually. I’m not too worried about it. It’s just one game.”
Three weeks later, by the end of Summer League in Las Vegas, Young had adjusted to the pace and length of the game, and he was dominating, knocking down threes and controlling games.
It was the story this season. Young looked overwhelmed at first, he shot 24.8 percent from three through October and November. His true shooting percentage in November was 44.3. He didn’t know how to run a team, he struggled defensively, he was just a mess.
Look at Young now. In his last 10 games he is scoring 26.4 points per game and shooting 45.9 percent from three. Friday night against the Bulls he had 49 points with 16 assists, his third straight game with at least 35 points.
The last rookie to score 35+ in at least two games was Allen Iverson. Young has pushed his way onto Rookie of the Year ballots (he’s not going to win the award, but he will finish top three).
Young still has his trademark confidence, and he’s still using his doubters as fuel. Look what he told Chris Kirschner of The Athletic.
“If I didn’t have people that doubted me, if I didn’t have people that didn’t believe in my ability, I don’t think I’d be where I’m at today,” Young said. “I have had people doubt me all through my career and all through my life. I think that’s what drives me and fuels me to be where I am today. So if I didn’t have those types of people around and those types of people to motivate me and fuel me, then I wouldn’t be here today.”
Young and John Collins give the Hawks the potential to be special down the line, a big and a guard with chemistry both playing at an All-Star or above level.
It’s just going to take time. And confidence.
Young has both.