Trae Young getting back to his dominant rhythm

Getting into the flow of the season has been important for Trae Young establishing a dominant rhythm over the past several games.

More than that, though, his mindset has made the difference.

“I think it’s getting into the flow of things again, playing, it can be a lot of things,” Young said at practice Monday. “I’m very focused; our team’s very focused and we are really trying to get wins and I think the mindset can be a big thing and big adjustment to playing good and playing bad. And so I think whenever guys have confidence and guys have confidence in themselves they play their best.”

Whatever the combination of factors may be, conditioning, rhythm, mentality, Young has enjoyed an excellent stretch over the past four games, including from Nov. 24-26 becoming the first NBA player this season to post back-to-back 30-plus point, 10-plus assist outings. Friday in the Hawks’ win vs. Memphis, Young tallied his NBA-leading fourth 30-plus point, 10-plus assist game, which puts him at 35 such games, tying him with Larry Bird for the 15th-most in league history.

On that stretch, he has also averaged 31.25 points on 56.3% shooting from the field (45-80), with his 3-point shot falling at 51.7% (15-29), adding 8.5 assists per game. His success helped them on the Hawks’ recent seven-game winning streak, though that was snapped in Saturday’s 99-90 loss to the Knicks, with both Bogdan Bogdanovic and Cam Reddish departing with injuries in the second quarter. That streak was key, though, to bounce back from a six-game losing streak which featured a tough road trip out West.

On Monday, Young was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for Nov. 22-28. Young led the Hawks to a 3-1 record while averaging the 31.3 points.

Through the Hawks’ first 21 games (an 11-10 start), Young has the best shooting numbers of his career so far, across the board: 46.5% from the field, 39.4% from 3-point range and 89.2% from the line, with a 53.5% effective field-goal percentage. He’s averaging 26 points and nine assists overall, which puts him at No. 5 in the league in scoring and No. 3 in assists.

The 3-point shot is what Young was mostly struggling with earlier in the season, shooting 25.5% from beyond the arc in the Hawks’ first nine games. But he’s not getting to different spots than normal, he said Monday.

“For me, I’m just making more shots,” Young said. “I’m kind of just taking my time and really focusing on every shot. I think I’m still getting to the same spots that I used to, but I’m just making my shots and making them more efficiently right now. I’m really focused and locked in each and every game to do that and keep it going. I think it’s really just the mindset. I don’t think I’m really getting anywhere differently or anywhere new, I’m just really focused on playing well and trying to get wins right now.”

Hawks coach Nate McMillan said Young’s conditioning has improved as the season progresses, which has helped him settle into a shooting groove.

“I think his conditioning is better, he’s been pushing himself and it’s just like most players, they start off kind of slow sometimes, the start of the season, your conditioning, you’ve been off the entire summer,” McMillan said. “So your conditioning is not there, your rhythm is not there, and you have to work yourself into shape and find your rhythm. And that’s what Trae seems to have done. He’s found a rhythm, those shots are starting to fall.”

“... Sometimes you come in and you’re in such great shape and great rhythm that you get off to a fast start, but I think for most players and teams I’ve seen, they kind of get off to a slow start and they find their rhythm, their conditioning gets better, the execution gets better and they start to play up to their capabilities.”

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