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Atlanta Hawks

What's next for Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks?

Trae Young's NBA season is officially over after the Atlanta Hawks were not among the 22 teams heading to Orlando for the season restart at Disney World.

The Hawks managed just 20 wins from their 67 games this season, earning the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference, however, for Young, the 2019-20 season came with plenty of individual accolades after he was named as an All-Star starter in his first All-Star Game in Chicago.

Between the 50-point games and the nightly SportsCenter appearances, Young has proven why he is must-watch TV, but with the Hawks still in the midst of a rebuild, his next challenge is turning those nightly individual performances into wins for his team.

After an impressive rookie season, the 21-year-old took his game to a new level in 2019-20, sitting fourth in the league in scoring and second in the league in assists, with his numbers jumping across the board, making him a sleeper candidate for Most Improved Player of the Year.

Trae Young's improvement by the numbers

Year Games Points Assists Rebounds Steals FG% 3P%
2018-19 81 19.1 8.1 3.7 0.9 41.8 32.4
2019-20 60 29.6 9.3 4.3 1.1 43.7 36.1

While his numbers leap off the page, Young has been given the keys to the franchise, with his usage percentage this season at 33.9, which ranks fourth in the league behind only Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, and James Harden.

Young's output on the offensive end is unquestionable, but the knock on the livewire guard throughout his short career has been on the defensive end. Young ranks 481st in the league in defensive rating as one of the worst individual defenders in the NBA, while the Hawks as a team allowed 119.7 points per game, ranking dead last in the NBA.

It's hard to judge a young player's defence on a bad team, something Young needs to make a focus for his improvement, but the Hawks front office must put the pieces around him to paper over the cracks, something Hawks GM and former Warriors executive Travis Shlenk oversaw during his time with Golden State and Stephen Curry - who serves as a solid blueprint for Young's style of play.

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Cam Reddish, De'Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter, and John Collins form the young nucleus of the team, while newly-acquired big Clint Capela adds a strong interior presence to act as a security blanket for Young's defence on the perimeter.

Young ran the most pick-and-rolls in the league this season, while Collins led the league in points scored as the roll man, forming a formidable partnership in the half-court. Adding Capela to the squad gives Young, yet another lob threat and elite screener to help create space for his playmaking and long-range shotmaking.

With a solid young team around him, what's next for Young?

The playoffs.

Atlanta have been missing from the post-season since 2017 and although they'll need to take a sharp jump in the win column, the Eastern Conference is primed for them to make that leap in 2020-21.

The Washington Wizards, who were ninth at the time the season was suspended, were only four wins above the Hawks, while the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, and Detroit Pistons, could all assume they'll be leapfrogged by Young and co. next season.

The Hawks will add more talent to the roster via the draft, with another lottery selection, but the catalyst will be Young's ability to make his otherworldly performances count for more.

Good thing for the Hawks.....he's just getting started.

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