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Hawks draft workout report: Trae Young, Oklahoma

The Hawks played host to former Oklahoma point guard Trae Young on Tuesday for a pre-draft workout. He’s likely to be available when the Hawks are on the clock with the No. 3 pick. General manager Travis Schlenk has said the Hawks are considering trading down, so Young also could be a target in that scenario. 

Click here for my March report on Young from Norman, Okla., and click here for Hawks assistant general manager Jeff Peterson’s recent thoughts on Young. He’s an elite offensive prospect because of his playmaking ability, shooting range and feel for the game. But Young’s relatively slight frame, his defensive deficiencies and his ordinary athletic ability (by NBA standards) are potential drawbacks. 

Below are some lightly edited excerpts from Young’s availability with Atlanta media following his Hawks workout: 

Q. What have you learned about how teams perceive you? What have they told you? 

A. It’s all pretty much the same. They know a lot what I can do on the court: shoot it, pass it. They get me into a lot of defensive drills. I’ve done really well in all of them. I did really well today in the defensive drill. They just want to see me compete. They want to get to know me. I think that’s the main thing: to see how hard I compete, how hard of an effort I give. 

Q. You had a successful year at Oklahoma. Do you think your game translates to the NBA? 

A. I think it does. I think it actually translates better because of the spacing and my ability to shoot the ball and pass the ball and get my teammates involved. 

Q. By NBA standards you will be a small player. There are smaller players who make it in the league. What do you think will be the key to make it at your size? 

A. Just continue to play the way I’ve played my whole life and be different. Being a smaller guard, you’ve got to be able to stand out in different areas. Be really able to shoot the ball, be really able to pass the ball, be really scrappy and be a tougher player. I think I get criticized a lot about not being as tough, but I’m an extremely tough-minded player. 

Former Oklahoma star Trae Young works out for the Atlanta Hawks ahead of the 2018 NBA Draft for which Atlanta has the third overall pick. (Video by Atlanta Hawks)

Q. We’ve heard about you gaining weight since the end of the season (at the combine last month Young weighed 178 pounds at 6-foot-1.75 inches). Where are you at with that now and where do you hope to be? 

A. Right now I’ve been traveling a bunch of different places so I’m trying to maintain. I’ve gained 11 pounds since my last game, so I’m maintaining that right now. I wanted to pick up weight and get stronger and that’s the main thing for me coming into the season. 

Q. How was this workout with the Hawks any different from with other teams? 

A. (Laughs) Coach (Lloyd Pierce) was out there guarding me, doing some things with me. He was very active. You can tell he still likes the competitiveness. The head coach out there guarding you, that was different. But they’ve all been pretty much the same. 

Q. What are your thoughts on the Hawks, and if they draft you, how can you impact the team? 

A. I think this team has a very promising future. There’s a lot of young guys. John (Collins) was watching today. He’s a really good player. There are a lot of really good young players on this team. I think it’s just one or two pieces away from doing something different. 

Q. When you look at a team like the Hawks in a rebuilding phase with a new coach, is that an ideal situation for you? 

A. Whatever situation I go to I will be able to fit in and play right away and help impact my team. I think with the staff they have here now it’s really awesome. I got to spend a lot of time with them last night at dinner. I got to talk to coach Pierce for a while after dinner, back at the hotel. I got to know him and pick his brain and him give me a lot of advice. I really like the staff here. 

Q. Coach Pierce played with (Hall of Fame point guard) Steve Nash in college. Did that come up in your conversations with him? 

A. Yep, it did. (Laughs) You can definitely bet on that. He told me a lot of stories about Steve. I’ve been in contact with Steve throughout this process. I’ve been able to talk to him and pick his brain, so we had some stories to talk about last night. 

Q. You received a lot of attention during the college basketball season. How will that help at the next level? 

A. I think it helped me a lot, just going through it a year earlier than a lot of other rookies, or any other rookie, will go through. I’ve been through it all, from different coverages against defenses, media attention, different things like that. I feel like I went through it a year earlier than anyone else in the draft. I think it helped me, prepared me for this next level, this next step and it will help me produce a lot faster. 

Q. Is there anybody in the NBA you’ve dreamed about playing against? 

A. Man, every point guard in the NBA I’ve been looking forward to playing against. I’ve known a lot of them from growing up. Going to Thunder games and knowing Russ (Westbrook). I know Steph (Curry), Kyrie (Irving), Chris Paul, Isaiah Thomas — I know all these point guards, so just being able to go up and compete against them and have fun and try to beat them will be something special. 

Q. Many scouts have compared you to Steph Curry. Do you see any similarities in your games? 

A. I see some similarities. I try to pick different things from different players. He can really shoot the ball, create space, so I definitely see some similarities. 

Q. Can you elaborate on how the different coverages you saw made it more difficult for you to produce later in the season and how that may help you as a pro?

A. I was getting face-guarded, double teams off screens, every screen. Different things, different coverages. I think it helped me being able to go back and watch film and now know what to do if that coverage happens in the NBA.

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About the Author

Michael Cunningham has covered the Hawks and other beats for the AJC since 2010.

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