Coach Lloyd Pierce of the Hawks converses with Trae Young against the Chicago Bulls at State Farm Arena on November 06, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Trae Young using ‘disrespect’ as motivation

He’s had it in his arsenal since fifth grade, he said at shootaround Saturday before the Hawks face the Clippers. 

Dribbling through an opponent’s legs, recently come to be known as nutmegging, is a skill Young (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) had to have when growing up, his dad, Rayford, added via Twitter, so he could find ways around (or through) bigger guys when playing with older age groups. 

“I've always done that move,” Young said. “But I also use it to create space, especially when teams are coming to double.” 

Teams aren’t left with much option, but to often double-team the point guard, who nutmegged Will Barton in the Hawks’ win in Denver on Tuesday then Ricky Rubio in their loss in Phoenix on Thursday, as he’s been putting up All Star-caliber numbers so far in his second year with the Hawks. In 33.7 minutes per game, Young is averaging 27.3 points (shooting 38.6% from 3-point range), four rebounds, 9.1 assists and 1.6 steals per game. 

After exploding for 42 points and 11 assists against the Nuggets, Young tweeted in all caps, “Your apology needs to be as loud as the disrespect was…” It’s a callback to the flack that has been directed at Young, whether it’s for his smaller size, a slower start to his rookie season than Luka Doncic (who the Hawks traded to the Mavericks in 2018 for Young and a first-round pick, which became Cam Reddish), or maybe just doubters in general. 

It wasn’t meant as a slight, per Young. But he is using that “disrespect” as motivation this season. So far, it seems like an effective method. 

"It's not a shot toward anybody, but it's just some people that didn't think I'd be able to do what I've been doing,” Young said. “It's just motivation. Everybody has a certain type of motivation that fuels them. There’s things that fuel me, and so I try to use it to my advantage.” 

As a rookie, Young had a rough November, scoring 14 points per game and struggling to shoot from a distance (shooting 19.8% from 3-point range). 

His fast start to the season, which stems from an increased comfort level in Year 2, has been key for the Hawks, particularly now, as they must play without John Collins and Kevin Huerter. 

“I know what to expect more, so for me it’s all about just knowing what to expect going into games and I just feel more comfortable heading into my second year,” Young said.

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