Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce is well aware of his team’s record (8-30). And he knows that may cloud Trae Young’s case for being an All-Star.
But in Pierce, Young, who maintained his first-place spot among Eastern Conference guards after the second round of fan voting came in Thursday, has a fierce advocate for getting to the NBA All-Star game.
“He’s an All-Star,” Pierce said Friday in D.C., with the Hawks set to face the Wizards (12-25). “And I’ll tell you firsthand, as a coach who votes, it’s hard to vote for teams with our record, it really is. It’s hard to vote against a guy with his numbers. And I don’t want to knock the East, but I can’t imagine there’s any other players (that are) playing better basketball than Trae Young.
“We would love to be in a position where our record helps him, more than anything, because Trae being at the All-Star event helps our organization, helps our team. We’re excited, we’re proud, we want him to be there.”
Swishing 3-pointers from the logo, dribbling through opponents’ legs and delivering no-look assists, Young is a marvel on offense. His defense is lacking, though, and for all Young’s offensive heroics, the Hawks have the worst record in the league. Obviously, that doesn’t fall on just Young’s shoulders, as the Hawks are rebuilding, and injuries to Kevin Huerter and John Collins’ 25-game suspension set them back big time.
As of Friday afternoon, Young ranks fourth in the league in scoring (29.2 points per game), fourth in assists (8.5 assists per game) and fifth in 3-pointers made (124). He’s also adding 4.5 rebounds per game and shooting 44.5% from the field (37.5% from 3-point range).
That production has Pierce feeling confident in Young’s odds.
“I have no doubts,” Pierce said. “I have zero doubts that he’s going to be there. And we need to do everything we can to improve our team, and he understands that, and I think he’s bought into that even more so as we’ve struggled and he’s had success. It’s not enough, and he’s recognized that, so he’s trying to do more to empower other guys. But even doing so, he’s still putting up the numbers he’s putting up.”
For now, Young said he’s staying focused on the Hawks’ day-to-day games, but being an All-Star is a dream of his and he’s eager to represent Atlanta, if he gets the chance.
“I don’t know, I don’t get all into it,” Young said. “I’m focused on my team right now. If the votes happen, and I’m in it, that would be a blessing.”
In Thursday’s fan returns, Young was at 1,389,628 votes, with Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving (1,351,997) in second place and Boston’s Kemba Walker (1,331,577) in third.
All in all, fan voting accounts for 50% of the vote determining the game’s 10 starters, with current NBA players and media accounting for 25% each (voting concludes Jan. 20). The All-Star game starters and captains will be announced Jan. 23, and the reserves (selected by NBA coaches) will be announced Jan. 30.
The game will take place 8 p.m. Feb. 16 at the United Center in Chicago.
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