NBA

Trae Young has cut down on his 3-point launching, and it has given the Hawks a more stable offense

Earlier this season I labeled Trae Young an average shooter who thinks he’s Stephen Curry, and I got roasted for it. But it continues to be a statistical fact. The league average from 3-point range is 36.6 percent. Young is shooting 35.7 percent for the season. He’s 34 percent from 3 in April over nine games, but if you take out one 6-for-7 game, he’s just 24 percent in his other eight, including 7 for his last 31. Young shot 33 percent from 3 for the month of March. He hasn’t shot better than 36.1 percent from 3 for a full season at any point his career, and that includes college.

Yes, he takes difficult shots. That’s also his choice. Young — who is injured right now, but has the Atlanta Hawks in line for a potential top-four playoff seed — is afforded total control over Atlanta’s offense, and simply put, his choices have gotten better. Specifically, as the Hawks have added scoring and creative support around him, he has trimmed the possession-killing 3-point bombs he simply hasn’t earned the right to chuck at high volume. You’re not seeing as much of this:

Last season, Young launched 430 3-pointers from between 25-29 feet, or 7.2 per game, making them at a 35.1 percent clip. This season he’s trimmed that number to 242 attempts, or 4.5 per game, making them at a similar 34.7 percent clip. Just a few feet is often a big difference. Look here as Trae walks into a 3 on the line and crosses over into one from a few steps deeper:

The worst shots tend to be the ones Young jacks up early in the possession before anyone else has touched the ball. Last season, Young attempted 132 3-pointers within the first six seconds of the shot clock, making them at a 31.8 percent clip. This season, he has, to this point, cut that number by exactly half, attempting 66 3-pointers within the first six seconds and making them at a 27 percent clip.

Stretching it deeper, Young jacked up 81 shots from 30-34 feet last season, and made 32 percent of them. This season that number is down to 56, also at a 32 percent clip. All told, Young is taking three fewer 3-pointers per game this season than he did last, down from 9.5 to 6.4. In other words, he’s the same shooter who’s shooting less, lending greater priority to his brilliant paint probing/floater game. 

It’s not that Young isn’t capable of connecting on these bombs. Of course he is, and he sometimes does. But there’s a big difference between capable and consistent. Young bending his shot selection more toward the latter, in addition to the better talent that is now surrounding him, has made the Hawks a more stable offense. 



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