How Trae Young Completely Changed his Narrative in the 2021 NBA Playoffs

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Trae Young has by far been one of the most interesting players to keep up with in the NBA since he joined the league just a few years ago, and it’s no secret that there are many different opinions on Trae and his playstyle… Between the foul baiting, nutmegs, and threes near half-court there have been many fans who believe that this style just can’t lead to wins and that Trae Young would never be the number one option on a contending team. Not to mention that the Hawks gave up one of the best young talents in the league in Luka Doncic to get Trae on draft night, which many thought was a mistake but now is proving to be one of the best decisions that this team could have made. Aside from all that though one thing is clear, Trae Young is dominating at the highest level, and not just that, but doing it with confidence as well… Today we have to talk about Trae Young and the Hawks, but specifically how Trae is going from one of the most hated players in the league to one of the most loved right before our eyes, how he can prove himself as a top 10 player in the NBA after this year, as well as going over some stats about playoff Trae that might shock you and the fact that I was wrong about Young when I made a video about him a few months ago.

With all that being said I have to give credit where credit is due, and I owe my man Trae Young an apology, well, sort of. Back in March, I made a video on why Trae Young was one of the most hated players in the league, talking about his foul baiting and the fact that many people hated this playstyle yet Trae did it anyway because it worked. In this video, I also talked about the fact that I didn’t think Trae could be the guy on a championship team and the hawks didn’t exactly have the best roster around him to win at the highest level this year, and boy was I wrong. Since making that video, the Hawks have become one of the best offensive teams in the league, led by none other than Trae and the elite shooters around him… And now, this team is in the eastern conference finals up a game against the bucks who just beat one of the best teams in the league in Brooklyn. Now I know, this series could go either way and this video could age poorly, but at this point in time, win or lose Trae Young has shown me all that I need to see… and that he has the ability to put a team on his back and be the guy when it matters most. Before the playoffs started I honestly thought that this Hawks team would lose in the first round against the Knicks. I mean Julius Randle just won the most improved player of the year and this Knicks team seemed like they had the defensive tools to combat Trae and the Hawks…

But this series is where the tides began to turn for Trae and how he has been able to become one of the most liked players in the league as opposed to one of the most hated. What I mean by that is since this series and in the playoffs in general, Trae Young has been a different player… And if you have been watching every game like I have you know exactly what I mean. In past years during the regular season, Trae Young often relied on his foul drawing that everyone hated so much to get his points for the team. If you look back at each game in the regular season, Trae would go through streaks of games where he would be attempting between 10 and 20 free throws a game consistently when he wasn’t having the best shooting nights, and oftentimes these free throws would be from the foul drawing tactics that the NBA is now looking to get rid of completely… But luckily for Trae, he doesn’t need them anymore. Despite shooting the second most free throws per game just behind Joel Embiid, once entering the playoffs Trae Young took it up a notch and showed that he doesn’t need foul baiting to be a good player, and in fact, he was better without it. It seemed like right when the playoffs started Trae stopped relying on this tactic that he was hated for and began to hunt for shots instead of hunting for fouls, and this worked wonders for him, and the stats don’t lie. Since entering the playoffs Trae Young has seen an increase in all his stats except for free throws attempted, which shows that hunting for shots instead of fouls does in fact better his game in a big way.

However, this small change in Trae’s game isn’t even the biggest reason why he could be classified as a superstar very soon… because the biggest reason in my eyes that the Hawks are still even in the playoffs is because of the fact that Trae has been able to step up big time when it matters most. Aside from the true greats, oftentimes when young stars are early on in their career they face a large amount of playoff failure because they need to get experience before they dominate. But, there are rare cases in which a young star enters the playoffs and takes their game to new heights, which is exactly what Trae Young has done. I have to give my man credit here because so far Trae has not only been fearless in the playoffs but a little cocky too which you have to love from someone who has never played on the biggest stage like this before. I mean we’ve already seen so many Trae Young moments like this it seems like he’s a playoff veteran… Between shushing the crowd against the Knicks, to the shimmy that he just hit last night Trae has taken on the villain role, which is exactly why I believe he is becoming one of the most liked players in the league as opposed to the most hated. I don’t know about you, but in the playoffs, I love to see a good villain player who shuts up any and everyone in his way, which is exactly what Trae has done so far… And it’s gained him popularity. Before the past few series I didn’t see anyone besides Hawks fans giving him love, and now every time I see a Trae Young post on social media people are commenting that he should get the same amount of respect as Luka, and I honestly agree because I think he’s definitely earned it at this point. No shade at Luka Doncic, because he truly is one of the best players in the league and he’s still very young, but the fact is Luka hasn’t had a playoff run like Trae, and even if it’s because of the roster difference you can’t deny that Trae Young has been flat out special in this series.

But if Trae Young wants to get the title of a superstar or a top 10 player in the league, this Hawks team will not only have to make it to the finals but win it against the Clippers or Suns… And I feel like they have a very good chance because of the roster that this team has built around Trae. It’s no secret that over the past two years the Hawks have had some ups and downs with the fit of their squad around Trae… At times last season it just seemed like this team didn’t have what it took to make the playoffs, yet after an offseason that isn’t talked about, enough the Hawks were able to construct a near-perfect roster around Young that could pay off big time if this team is able to beat the bucks. In my eyes, this Hawks roster was built for Trae to be the number one option, and now that he is playing like a superstar in the playoffs it has shown what this team is truly capable of when Trae is initiating the offense. With shooters like Bogdonavich and Huerter always on the floor along with lob threats in Collins and Capela this team literally has unlimited options for Trae when making a pass to set up his teammates, which has elevated his play and that of his teammates in a big way. With this roster, in my eyes, there is a very good chance that they make it to the finals… We saw in game 7 against the 76ers just how good the other players are on this team, and Trae Young couldn't have said it any better than when he said this after the game: Quote: “They were making plays for me throughout the whole game,” Young said. “Just wanted to come through in the end and help them out a little bit. I know I didn’t shoot the ball great today, but they definitely made plays, and it was a total team effort tonight.” Despite the 76ers choking this game, it was also very clear that Trae Young's teammates could make winning plays at the highest level when Trae was struggling. And in my eyes, the stakes aren’t any higher than in a game 7… which makes this hawks team very scary and honestly a dark horse team to win it all out of everyone left in the playoffs.

Let’s talk about this series though, because even though winning this series is very important for Trae Young and his legacy, it may be even more important for Giannis, because if the Bucks lose this series he could very well get upset and leave despite just signing the massive extension. Even though I wanted the Nets to win against the Bucks, I can’t deny that this should be one of the better matchups in the playoffs. For the Hawks, you have one of the best offensive teams in the league with guys like Collins and Capela to match up with Giannis, and the bucks, well they are one of the best defensive teams with Jrue Holiday and PJ tucker who showed that they can be elite defenders on some of the best players in the game in the nets series… But what Trae Young did in game one should concern Bucks fans, to say the least. If you guys watched the game you would know that this team couldn’t do anything to stop Young, and even though many believe that this was a game to see how the Hawks play and make adjustments after that I just can’t help but feel that the Bucks are taking this series too lightly. When going up against the nets this team seemed like they had that win-or-go-home mentality every game because they were going up against one of the best scorers of all time in Kevin Durant… And if I’m being honest, that mentality just wasn’t there against the Hawks, and Trae Young made them pay. Now I know, the Hawks only won by three and Trae Young had one of the best games of his life… But the fact is we could very well see him play like this for the whole series, because the Bucks, well they might not have an answer for him. It’s no secret that Mike Budenholzer, who is the coach of the Bucks, is known for not making critical adjustments. In the past, he has failed to make moves that work on the court, and even last series he refused to double KD which was an inch away from costing them the series and possibly Giannis. If this Bucks team wants a chance against the hawks, they need to slow down Trae Young, at this point though that might not even be enough, because this whole Hawks team is confident and ready to win no matter who they match up against. What I mean by that is that Trae Young really doesn’t have many weaknesses on the offensive end of the floor… he can score at all three levels and has the ability to drop dimes to his teammates for easy looks. So, if the Bucks tried to double Trae Young, well that would be even easier for him because he would have someone wide open for a lob or three-ball, and if his teammates can step up and score when needed, in my eyes this series is over and the Hawks move on to the finals.

Regardless of how the hawk's season plays out, it is clear that Trae Young has changed the narrative of being a small foul-baiting guard to a cold-blooded villain who can expose anyone on the offensive side of the ball because he is just that good. To say the least, it will be very interesting to see what the rest of Trae Young's career holds because if he steals a finals win this year he could very well attract some stars to join him in Atlanta and create a dynasty for the ages, but that’s a whole nother topic in itself!

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