Latest posts by Ben Stinar (see all)
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ATLANTA — Trae Young is Oklahoma born and bred. It’s all he knew coming into the NBA. However, he didn’t get drafted to the Oklahoma City Thunder. This rookie season with the Atlanta Hawks was not only his first season in the NBA, but his first year away from home.
“Everything I know has been in Norman, Okla., and Oklahoma City my whole life,” Young told Amico Hoops after practice Tuseday. “A little bit a few other places, but mainly in Oklahoma.”
The State Farm Arena where the Hawks play is 862 miles from Norman. While Young may have been a hoops superhero last year, and is seen as the new face of the franchise for the Hawks, he’s still human. He still has feelings and people who he loves just like everybody else.
“Coming to Atlanta being away from family for the first time in a long time is different,” he said. “It’s an adjustment, but it’s been great.”
At just 20-years old, Young would only be a sophomore in college. He has a girlfriend who still goes to school in Oklahoma, a younger sister who is a freshman at TCU, a younger sister still in high school and a younger brother who’s only in the third grade. He’s still a kid, and maintains a close relationship with his father Rayford Young, who played college basketball at Texas Tech.
While his father and girlfriend visit a lot (they both attended the last game against the New Orleans Pelicans), they don’t live with him full-time anymore. However, homesickness doesn’t seem to be a problem, because the city of Atlanta is a place he has come to truly enjoy.
“This is a place where I could see myself being for my whole career,” Young said. “I think the city has really embraced me and I’ve really enjoyed the city as far as the culture and all the people here and how much they really support their teams.
“I just love the environment every time I’m in the arena. Anywhere in Atlanta really. Definitely been like a second home to me.”
Young recently told Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype that he took online classes his second semester at Oklahma last year, because of how much attention was surrounding him in terms of being bombarded for pictures. In Atlanta, things are a little different, because it’s a big city and he’s just not as tall as some of his teammates. Sometimes a hat or a hoodie might do the trick for disguising himself. He goes to Phipps Plaza and Lennox Mall a lot, because he lives in a Buckhead apartment near by.
“I’m still 20-years old; I wanna get out and do things,” he said. “I want to go Top Golf every now and then. Do other things like go to the movies. For me, I still get out. People may see me out and not say much just because they don’t want to bother me or things like that, and I look undercover anyways, so they notice me. They know I don’t wanna be bugged as much. I love meeting people, I love doing things like that so I don’t mind it.”
As for on the court, the fifth-overall draft pick is making a serious case for at least some Rookie of the Year consideration. While everyone was so caught up in what Dallas Mavericks sensation Luka Doncic was doing early on, they’ve not realized the improvement Young has made.
As of right now he is in second place in the entire league with 532 assists. No other rookie has done that in the last 30-years. And while he may have had a slow start to the season, his overall numbers are fantastic from a statistical standpoint.
Only four current starting point guards (five counting James Harden) have averaged at least 18 points and 7.8 assists in a season during their entire career. Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker and Damian Lillard have all averaged the points, but not with as many assists. Young is already in a class stastically with Steph Curry, Chris Paul, John Wall and Russell Westbrook.
“I gotta lock in,” he said. “Be ready to compete these last thirteen games. Just gotta turn it up, and everybody will see, I just gotta get back to playing well.”