Quin Snyder: Trae Young is a winner, has great mind for the game

New Hawks coach Quin Snyder inherited a talented roster headlined by guard Trae Young, a spectacular talent who reportedly hasn’t always meshed with the players and coaches around him.

Snyder, who made the playoffs six consecutive seasons with the Jazz, says he’s excited to work with Young. After his introductory news conference Monday, Snyder sat down with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and discussed several topics, including Young and the players surrounding him.

Young reportedly clashed at times with the Hawks’ past two coaches, Lloyd Pierce and Nate McMillan. He hasn’t always jelled with his teammates, which is one part of a larger problem cited by forward John Collins last week when he said the team needed to mature. Asked about the perception around Young, Snyder emphasized he wants to maximize every individual.

“This is a process for me, thinking about each guy and how they can be better and how they can complement one another,” Snyder told the AJC. “I think Trae’s excited about this challenge. I think one of the things you can see in him, he’s a winner. (Sunday) night, you know, the game-winning shot (against the Nets). And also for him, he’s as transparent as anyone about things he wants to do better. That’s something I hope I can provide for him and challenge him. And we can all grow together.”

Snyder, a culture builder, arrives with 21 games remaining in the regular season. He’ll assess the organization, top to bottom, and figure out what the team needs moving forward. But every conversation about the Hawks’ long-term prospects begins with Young, who at 24 is already one of the best players in franchise history.

“You see how Trae plays,” Snyder said. “I think his mind for the game is a real strength. I’m going to encourage him, and have already, to be instinctive, but also be mindful of how he plays.”

Young is a two-time All-Star, and while he didn’t receive that honor this season, he’s averaged 27 points per game along with a career-best 10.2 assists per game. His overall shooting percentages are down, and he’s spent much of the season learning to play with fellow All-Star guard Dejounte Murray, but Young remains the reason the Hawks have any hopes of a playoff run and eventually becoming a legitimate contender.

The Hawks executed an all-in trade for Murray over the summer. He’s lived up to expectations individually, but his fit with Young has been rocky at points, which isn’t unexpected for the ball-dominant players.

“We’ve said a lot about partnerships, right? That’s kind of what a backcourt is,” Snyder said. “I think them seeing themselves, I mean, they are two individual players, but them really seeing themselves as a backcourt where they can complement one another. I think there are things that we want to try to do, and how much of it you can do initially, where Trae can get off the ball, come off screens. Dejounte can play off the ball in pick and roll, and Trae can throw ahead and he can attack on a direct line drive in transition.

“Having multiple ballhandlers, it’s harder to develop that just because there are more variables. But it can be difficult to defend as well. So those are things that take time. A lot of times you’re figuring it out, the questions you’re asking about, and you may make an assumption, and you could feel like maybe that you’re not wrong, per se, but that you have to adapt and change. They have to be willing to do that. I have to do that. And you make progress on that line. I think that’s what they’re doing. I think that’s what we’re going to continue.”

Less than 24 hours before Snyder’s introduction, Young’s buzzer-beater moved the Hawks above .500 at 31-30. They’re eighth in the Eastern Conference, increasingly likely to be in the Play-In Tournament. And now a critical evaluation period begins; regardless of how this season finishes, Snyder gets a couple months to learn the roster, build rapport with Young and Murray, and work with general manager Landry Fields to understand what the team needs to ascend in 2023-24.