Trae Young

Southeast Notes: Young, Bol, Isaac, Unseld Jr.

Hawks guard Trae Young has adopted a new offseason routine this year, writes Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Instead of taking his usual month off, Young was back in the gym a week after Atlanta’s loss to Miami in its first-round series. He’s undertaking a workout regimen that he plans to continue through the NBA Finals, explaining, “because that’s where I want to play.”

“I think it’s gotta be,” Young said. “It’s happened for a lot of the guys who’ve won championships and all the big-time players that’s come before me, throughout this whole league. Everybody has to go through something to push through, to get to that next step. I think this could be that thing.”

The Heat were able to rattle Young by attacking him with multiple defenders, leading to subpar numbers throughout the series. He averaged 15.4 points and 6.2 turnovers in the five games while shooting 31.9% from the field and 18.4% from three-point range.

“I think this is just a learning experience in the early chapter stage of my career that I needed to go through,” Young said. “The Heat did a great job, their defensive schemes, placement, where their guys were, switching it up, making it difficult. Just looking back at some of the mistakes I had, I know I’m going to learn from them, and it’s only going to make me better, and I think that’s a scary thing, if I’m young and I still have a lot to grow from. I think it’s a good thing that I can learn from it.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Magic big man Bol Bol is continuing rehab work on his injured right foot that required surgery in January, according to Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. Bol wasn’t able to play for Orlando after being acquired in a February deal, and he’ll be a free agent this summer. The Magic can make him restricted by extending a $2.7MM qualifying offer, and it sounds like the team still believes in his future. “Bol’s working very hard,” president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said. “He’s working diligently. He’s working every day. He continues to ramp up. He’s just doing individual work right now. We’re going to be careful with him as we are with everyone to make sure he doesn’t skip steps in his rehabilitation.”
  • Speaking as part of the ReAwaken America Tour, Magic forward Jonathan Isaac explained his decision not to get the COVID-19 vaccine, per Johnny Askounis of EuroHoops“Viewing it, it seemed forced. It seemed that there was so much pressure in doing it,” Isaac said. “I don’t see the wisdom in putting something into my body that’s not going to stop me from getting the virus or transmitting it. That is why I decided to be the only player on my team to not get vaccinated.”
  • First-year coach Wes Unseld Jr. has been selected to represent the Wizards at Tuesday’s draft lottery, the team tweeted this week. Washington has a 3% chance of landing the first pick and a 13.9% chance of moving into the top four.

Heat Notes: Series Win, Butler, Lowry, Oladipo, Robinson

Despite missing Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry, the Heat closed out their first-round series on Tuesday, defeating the Hawks and securing a spot in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. They’ll face either Philadelphia or Toronto in the second round.

As Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald writes, the story of the first-round win was Miami’s defense simply performing better than Atlanta’s high-octane offense. After averaging 28.4 points per game on 46.0% shooting during the regular season, Trae Young put up just 15.4 PPG on 31.9% shooting in five playoff games vs. the Heat. Young, who made 22 field goals and had 30 assists in the series while turning the ball over 30 times, couldn’t seem to get going no matter who was defending him.

“They’re a good defensive team,” Young said, per Chiang. “Their team is more of a system than who they have on their team, and no matter who they have out there, they can play. It’s about their system. Their defensive system is all about helping.”

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Miami’s second-round series won’t begin until next Monday, so Butler (right knee inflammation) and Lowry (left hamstring strain) will have a few days to try to get ready for Game 1. The hope is that both will be available, according to Chiang. “The next couple days while we just watch what’s going on, I just want everybody living in the training room,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after Tuesday’s win. “Go back to our cave, bandage up, hopefully get healthy and then see what happens in that series. But definitely the guys have earned a couple days of just quality rest and treatment.”
  • Following the Heat’s Game 4 win, Butler and Victor Oladipo both laughed off a Skip Bayless claim that Butler hates playing with Oladipo (Twitter links via Brady Hawk of 5 Reasons Sports and Chiang). “I’m always the bad guy,” Butler said. “That’s okay. Bad guys are welcome here in the Miami Heat organization. … I love my guys.” Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald referred to the rumor as “baseless” (Twitter link).
  • Oladipo’s recent emergence has further diminished Duncan Robinson‘s role and raised more questions about Robinson’s future in Miami, writes John Hollinger of The Athletic. Hollinger published his article prior to Game 5, but Tuesday’s performances only strengthened his thesis — Oladipo had 23 points, while Robinson went scoreless on 0-of-5 shooting in 13 minutes.

Southeast Notes: Heat, Young, Bridges, Wizards

After being swept in the first round last season, the Heat added three players in free agency who have won championships, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. P.J. Tucker, who was part of the Bucks’ title team last season, Markieff Morris, who got a ring with the Lakers in 2020, and Kyle Lowry, who won with the Raptors in 2019, all brought plenty of playoff experience to Miami.

They joined a roster that includes Udonis Haslem, who has won three titles, and five other holdovers from the Heat team that reached the Finals in 2020. The experience and mental toughness needed to get to that level helped Miami emerge from a crowded field to grab the No. 1 seed in the East.

“It’s a high that you’re chasing,” Lowry said. “You want to get back to that high and you want to stay at that high. When you win one, you want that high right away. You want that high, it’s a high you can’t match. I’m just being honest. It’s still there, that fire is burning. I’m just chasing that high right now.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat’s biggest challenge in the first round will be finding a way to control Hawks star Trae Young, Chiang adds. Miami typically uses a variety of defenders against Young and mixes up its coverages to make him less comfortable. “He’s one of the most dynamic point guards we have in our league now,” Lowry said. “You just have to know that he’s going to do some spectacular things. But we do have to wear on him, make things a little bit tougher, however that is.”
  • Miles Bridges wants to remain with the Hornets, but the team faces a lot of questions this summer about how to build its roster, according to Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. There should be significant demand for Bridges, who will be a restricted free agent once Charlotte extends a $7.9MM qualifying offer, and the organization has to decide how many of its young players it wants to make a long-term investment in. “Charlotte has really taken me in and brought me in,” Bridges said. “I got drafted as a 20-year-old kid. And for me to grow up here and for everybody to embrace me like they have, that’s something I’ll never forget. Especially going into the contract season.”
  • Injuries were a year-long concern for the Wizards, but coach Wes Unseld Jr. believes the team has a solid foundation in place, per Bijan Todd of NBC Sports Washington. “Obviously the health factor is something that we can’t necessarily control, but if we come back healthy…I think we’re setting ourselves up for a pretty bright future,” Unseld Jr. said.

Super-Max Candidates Who Will Be Impacted By 2021/22 All-NBA Picks

A player who has no more than six years of NBA experience is typically eligible for a maximum salary starting at 25% of the salary cap; a player with between seven and nine years of NBA service is eligible for a max deal starting at 30% of the cap; and a player with 10 or more years of experience can earn a starting salary worth up to 35% of the cap.

However, the NBA’s super-max rules, which we explain in a pair of glossary entries, allow players who don’t yet have 10 years of experience to move into higher maximum-salary tiers. By meeting certain criteria, players with seven to nine years of experience can become eligible for salaries worth up to 35% of the cap, while players with six years (or less) of service time can qualify for up to 30% of the cap.

The super-max performance criteria is as follows (only one of the following must be true):

  • The player was named to an All-NBA team and/or was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in the most recent season, or in two of the last three seasons.
  • The player was named the NBA MVP in any of the three most recent seasons.

A player who has seven or eight years of NBA service with one or two years left on his contract becomes eligible for what is known as a “Designated Veteran” extension if he meets the required performance criteria and hasn’t been traded since his first four years in the league. A Designated Veteran contract can also be signed by a player who is technically a free agent if he has eight or nine years of service and meets the required criteria.

Nuggets star Nikola Jokic met the super-max performance criteria a year ago when he won his first MVP award. However, since he still only had six years of NBA experience under his belt at the time, he couldn’t actually sign a Designated Veteran extension with Denver until the summer of 2022. The expectation is that Jokic will sign a five-year contract extension with a starting salary worth 35% of the 2023/24 cap this offseason.

Players who are coming off their rookie contracts and meet the super-max performance criteria become eligible for what is colloquially known as a “Rose Rule” contract, starting at 30% of the cap instead of 25%. The rule is unofficially named after Derrick Rose, who won an MVP award in 2011 while he was still on his rookie deal.

Mavericks star Luka Doncic qualified for a Rose Rule super-max deal by earning All-NBA honors in his second and third NBA seasons in 2020 and 2021. Even if he doesn’t make an All-NBA team this season (he will), he already met the performance criteria by being named an All-NBA player in two of the three seasons before his new contract will take effect. When the Mavs signed Doncic to a rookie scale extension last offseason, they agreed it would start at 30% of the 2022/23 cap. Currently, that five-year deal projects to be worth over $212MM.

Not every player is as fortunate as Jokic or Doncic though. Most of the players who have a shot at becoming eligible for a super-max contract this year will need to earn a spot on one of the 2021/22 All-NBA teams in order to qualify.

Here’s a closer look at some of the players who have a lot riding on this season’s All-NBA picks from a financial perspective:

Trae Young (Hawks)

When Young signed a five-year, maximum-salary rookie scale extension with the Hawks last August, the two sides agreed to include Rose Rule language in the agreement, opening the door for Young’s starting salary to be worth 30% of the cap (instead of 25%) when the deal begins in 2022/23. In order for that to happen though, Young has to earn one of 15 All-NBA spots this season.

It looked in the first half, as Atlanta got off to a 17-25 start, like Young would be a long shot to make an All-NBA team. However, as they did a year ago, the Hawks have played much better in the second half and Young has been leading the team’s push for a playoff spot.

Young’s season-long averages of 28.3 PPG and 9.7 APG in 74 games (34.9 MPG) make him a legitimate All-NBA candidate, even if he’s penalized a little for his subpar defense. While Luka Doncic, Stephen Curry, Devin Booker, and Ja Morant are probably ahead of him among potential All-NBA guards, Young looks like a strong Third Team contender, especially if voters consider DeMar DeRozan to be a forward.

Based on the NBA’s latest cap projections, Young would be in line for a $212.3MM payday if he’s named to an All-NBA team or $176.9MM if he isn’t. That’s a difference of more than $35MM, so voters will have to think carefully about which players they select as their six All-NBA guards this spring.

Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves)

Devin Booker (Suns)

Unlike Young, Towns and Booker have yet to lock in extensions with their respective teams and aren’t facing do-or-die All-NBA decisions this spring. However, both players would become eligible for super-max contract extensions (worth 35% of the cap instead of 30%) if they’re named to an All-NBA team this season.

The current contracts for Towns and Booker are virtually identical, and if they both earn All-NBA nods, their next deals could be too. With seven years of NBA experience and two years left on their respective contracts, they’d be eligible to sign four-year, Designated Veteran extensions this offseason.

Those deals wouldn’t go into effect until 2024/25, so it’s difficult to pin down exactly how much they’d be worth. We don’t yet have solid cap projections for that season. But if we assume a $130MM salary cap for that ’24/25, a four-year contract starting at 35% of the cap would work out to approximately $204MM.

First though, Towns and Booker will need to earn All-NBA spots. Booker looks like a lock, having been the go-to offensive option for the league’s best team.

Towns’ spot isn’t quite as certain, since he’ll be behind centers Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid, and Rudy Gobert‘s defensive dominance always makes him an All-NBA threat. But I think voters will favor Towns over Gobert and other centers (such as Bam Adebayo). There’s even a possibility that both Jokic and Embiid could end up on the First Team if voters put one of the two stars at forward, which would leave both the Second Team and Third Team center spots up for grabs and make Towns a slam-dunk choice.

Zach LaVine (Bulls)

LaVine will have eight years of NBA service under his belt when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason and will be eligible for a maximum salary starting at 30% of the cap. An All-NBA nod would bump that number up to 35%, but that doesn’t look nearly as realistic for LaVine as it did earlier in the season.

Slowed by knee pain, LaVine has seen his numbers dip a little in the second half, and while they’re still strong overall (24.4 PPG on .475/.389/.852 shooting), his teammate DeRozan is more likely to earn All-NBA accolades. And after slipping to sixth in the Eastern Conference standings, Chicago is unlikely to be rewarded with two All-NBA selections.

Assuming LaVine doesn’t make an All-NBA team, his projected five-year maximum contract with the Bulls will be worth $212.3MM instead of $247.7MM.

The rest

The players listed above aren’t the only ones who have super-max eligibility on the line with this year’s All-NBA vote. But they’re the only ones among that group who are realistic candidates to actually make one of those All-NBA teams.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Michael Porter Jr., for instance, signed rookie scale extensions with Rose Rule language last offseason and would be eligible for higher max salaries if they make an All-NBA team, but obviously they won’t. Suns center Deandre Ayton, a restricted free agent this summer, would qualify for a 30% max salary with an All-NBA spot, and he certainly has a better case than Gilgeous-Alexander or Porter. But he’ll fall short too.

When this season’s All-NBA teams are eventually announced, Young, Towns, Booker, and – to a lesser extent – LaVine are the best candidates to benefit financially.

Nikola Jokic, Trae Young Named Players Of The Week

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic and Hawks guard Trae Young have been named the NBA’s Players of the Week for the Western Conference and Eastern Conference respectively, the league announced today (via Twitter).

It’s the second time this season that Jokic and Young have been named Players of the Week in the same week — they also both earned the honor on January 24. It’s Young’s third Player of the Week win for the season and only Jokic’s second, despite the fact that the Nuggets star is one of the MVP frontrunners.

Jokic continued his push for a second consecutive MVP award this week by putting up a monster line of 34.8 PPG, 17.3 RPG, 8.5 APG, and 2.0 SPG in Denver’s four games, three of which were victories. He poured in at least 37 points in three of those contests and grabbed at least 18 rebounds three times as well.

Young led the Hawks to four straight wins during the week of March 28 – April 3, averaging a double-double (30.3 PPG, 10.8 APG) on .462/.359/.921 shooting in 32.3 MPG. As a result of the 4-0 week, Atlanta now holds the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference. The team would give itself two chances to earn a playoff spot in the play-in tournament if it hangs onto its place in the standings this week.

The other Player of the Week nominees were Dillon Brooks, Luka Doncic, Anthony Edwards, and CJ McCollum in the West, and DeMar DeRozan, Joel Embiid, Darius Garland, Kyle Lowry, and Pascal Siakam in the East (Twitter link).

Hawks Notes: Young, Collins, Playoffs, Johnson

Trae Young can gain super-max status on his extension if he’s named to one of the All-NBA teams this season, but that’s certainly no given, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic notes.

If he’s selected, Young will receive a five-year contract worth approximately $212MM. Otherwise, that figure drops to around $177MM. The Athletic polled 45 current or former voters and only eight said they would vote for Young on one of the three All-NBA teams. The Hawks’ inconsistent season is swaying those decisions more than Young’s statistics, Kirschner observes.

Young signed the extension in August.

We have more on the Hawks:

  • There’s still no decision on whether John Collins will be shut down for the rest of the season, Kirschner tweets. Coach Nate McMillan said prior to Thursday’s game there’s no update on a possible return for Collins, who is rehabbing from foot and finger injuries. He hasn’t played since March 11.
  • The Hawks clinched a spot in the play-in tournament with their 131-107 triumph over Cleveland on Thursday. McMillan hopes they can move up in the standings the rest of the way, Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. “We had the opportunity to clinch that spot, being in the top 10, but we also have a chance to move up in these remaining games. Our approach to this game had to be such,” he said.
  • Jalen Johnson entered the league’s concussion protocol, Spencer adds in another tweet. Johnson played 17 minutes against Indiana on Monday.
  • Johnson, the team’s first-round pick, hasn’t received much playing time in his rookie campaign. McMillan believes he’s gotten a good education by spending most of the season in the G League, Kirschner writes. “He’s gotten a lot of minutes in the G League, and I think that’s helped him, so when he’s stepping in a moment like this, it’s not too different as far as what he has to do out there,” McMillan said earlier this week. “He’s guarding the four and five with the Skyhawks. With us, he’s playing the four position, and we’re switching him on guards. You don’t want him to think. Just play and react to situations.”

And-Ones: Young Point Guards, Henson, Holmgren, Draft

Rising Grizzlies star Ja Morant has enjoyed a breakout year in Memphis, but 11 of 15 scouts and executives polled by Tim Bontemps of ESPN would still take Mavericks star Luka Doncic over Morant if they were picking a young point guard to build around.

Bontemps asked those 15 scouts and execs to rank Doncic, Morant, Trae Young, LaMelo Ball, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Darius Garland, and got some interesting responses. Doncic was the overwhelming top pick, with Morant (who had the other four first-place votes) coming in second, followed by Young in third. Ball and Gilgeous-Alexander were neck and neck for the fourth spot, with Garland bringing up the rear.

The question engendered plenty of debate, according to Bontemps, who notes that the respondents’ evaluations of certain prospects varied significantly. For instance, one Eastern Conference executive believes that Gilgeous-Alexander could be “potentially be doing a lot of the same things” as Morant if their situations were flipped, while an East scout said SGA is “clearly last” of the six in his view, since the others are better at passing and making plays for teammates.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA lottery pick John Henson has signed with Mets de Guaynabo for the upcoming season in Puerto Rico, tweets agent Christian Santaella. Henson, who has appeared in 445 regular season NBA games, signed a 10-day contract with the Knicks last April, but hasn’t played in an NBA game since the 2019/20 season.
  • In an Insider-only story for ESPN, Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz explore why Gonzaga big man Chet Holmgren is such a polarizing player for NBA scouts. As ESPN’s duo explains, Holmgren is a one-of-a-kind prospect who can’t be easily compared to current or former NBA players, making it more difficult to evaluate both his potential upside and his potential risk.
  • Givony and Schmitz have also updated their top-100 prospect list for the 2022 NBA draft and discussed some of the players who have recently risen up that big board.
  • Jeremy Woo of takes an in-depth look at Amen Thompson and Ausar Thompson, identical twins who are candidates to be drafted in the lottery in 2023. The Thompson twins, who are currently playing for Overtime Elite, both went in the top 10 of ESPN’s most recent 2023 mock draft.

Southeast Notes: Hayward, McDaniels, Collins, Highsmith, Young

Hornets forward Gordon Hayward, who has been out since February 7 with sprained ligaments in his left ankle, is making steady progress though there’s still no timetable for his return, Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer reports.

Hayward has shed his walking boot and coach James Borrego is hopeful by the end of the week that Hayward will make “serious progress.”

“He’s pushing it, he’s headed in the right direction,” Borrego said. “Where that leaves us, I don’t know yet. But what I can say is he’s making positive progress and hopefully we’ll have a better update here soon.”

Jalen McDaniels, who has been out since January 21 due to a sprained left ankle, is listed as questionable for tomorrow’s game against the Nets.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks forward John Collins returned to action over the weekend after missing seven games due to a right foot strain. That doesn’t mean the injury has completed healed, according to Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution“I definitely feel like it’s going to be a process to get back to 100% as it is with anything, but I’m just trying to do my best to maintain and damage control, if you will, to just make sure I’m healthy and ready to go enough to do well for my team,” Collins said.
  • The Heat have opted to retain Haywood Highsmith on a three-year contract. They’d like to see him develop into a P.J. Tucker-type forward, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. The team has Highsmith focusing on “defense and shooting threes” to resemble “a little bit of P.J. Tucker,” Highsmith told Chiang.
  • Though the Hawks are struggling to reach the .500 mark, Trae Young believes they can make another deep and surprising run in the postseason, as he told Chris Kirschner of The Athletic“I feel like we can beat anybody if you put us in a seven-game series and give us a chance to look at you,” Young said. “We have talent and smart-enough guys to make some noise. I feel confident.”

Southeast Notes: Satoransky, I. Thomas, Okongwu, Hawks

Tomas Satoransky is excited to rejoin the Wizards and have the opportunity to play with Kristaps Porzingis again, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “It feels like home and it’s always easier to go somewhere you like,” Satoransky said of D.C. and the Wizards.

As Hughes details, Satoransky has had a tough season to this point. The 30-year-old suffered a flexor muscle injury while playing with his native Czech Republic in the Olympics last summer, which limited his ability to train. He was traded to the Pelicans from the Bulls in the offseason, then was dealt to the Spurs ahead of the trade deadline last month. He reached a buyout agreement with the Spurs and then signed with the Wizards after clearing waivers.

Satoransky has appeared in 34 games (14.8 minutes) so far this season, averaging just 2.8 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 2.3 assists on .306/.161/.774 shooting. He admits it’s been a challenging year. “It was the first time I really struggled like that in the NBA, but it happens sometimes. It’s a tough league and you have to be mentally resilient,” he said, per Hughes. Satoransky holds career averages of 7.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 4.0 assists on .468/.356/.819 shooting in 367 games (22.4 minutes), so 2021/22 is an outlier statistically.

Satoransky was Porzingis’ teammate with Spanish club Casajol from 2012-14 and he’s looking forward to being on the court with him again, Hughes relays. “I was also excited that Kristaps is on the team because Kristaps is my good friend from the past. I played with him for three years, 10-11 years ago. Imagine that, it’s really crazy. I always wished that I could play with him again. This chance is pretty awesome to have,” Satoransky said.

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • Isaiah Thomas, who inked a 10-day deal with the Hornets Wednesday, says he’ll bring a positive attitude to his new team, regardless of how much he actually plays, according to Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer. “I have no expectations,” Thomas said. “My expectation is just to make a positive impact on the organization whether I play or I don’t. I’ve been able to make positive impacts on organizations if I’m in the game or if I’m not. So it really doesn’t matter if I play or not. I’m here to be a positive influence on those guys and hopefully turn this ship around a little bit. But if my name is called, I’ve been prepared for these moments. So I’m more than prepared and more than ready to take advantage.” Thomas put up 10 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals in 14 minutes in Charlotte’s 119-98 victory over Cleveland Wednesday.
  • Hawks big man Onyeka Okongwu has entered the league’s concussion protocol and is out for Thursday’s game against Chicago, Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. John Collins is also out as he continues to be bothered by a right foot straight, while Trae Young is questionable with a sprained ankle, Spencer relays (Twitter link). It’ll be Collins’ seventh straight missed game.
  • Time is running out to save the Hawks’ frustratingly inconsistent season, says Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. “I don’t know why it’s going up and down,” Bogdan Bogdanovic said after Atlanta blew a 15-point lead to the Celtics and lost 107-98. “Like why is it going from the greatest game we just had against Toronto (Saturday night) to the worst game maybe in the season? I don’t know. I’m experiencing this for the first time of my career. I don’t know.” After finishing last season 41-31 and reaching the Eastern Conference Finals, the Hawks are just 29-32 to this point, 10th in the East. They hold a one-game lead over Washington for the final spot in the play-in tournament.

Southeast Notes: LaMelo, Young, Heat, Kuzma

The Hornets find themselves armed with a freshly-minted All-Star in point guard LaMelo Ball and a 2022 Most Improved Player candidate in forward Miles Bridges. Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer wonders if the club will be able to maximize Ball while he remains in his prime.

Fowler is skeptical of that happening this season at least. The 29-31 club has lost nine of its last ten contests, due in part to the absence of small forward Gordon Hayward and a few other key players. Fowler notes that the shorthanded Hornets are struggling to close out games.

“The way we are right now, we’re in a place of confusion a little bit at times during the game,” forward Kelly Oubre reflected following the team’s seventh straight home loss. “More veteran teams come in and capitalize on that.”

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • In an interview with Dotun Akintoye of ESPN, Hawks All-Star point guard Trae Young discussed his rise through his college run at Oklahoma to the ranks of the NBA’s best. Head coach Nate McMillan praised Young. “I think he has a special talent that we haven’t really seen at that position, his ability to score, as well as facilitate,” McMillan said.
  • The Heat could benefit from the addition of another stretch four to help space the floor and draw opposing big men away from the basket, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Winderman cautions that the buyout market is currently somewhat barren. 36-year-old starting power forward P.J. Tucker fulfills that role at present, though given his advanced NBA age, is only playing 28.6 MPG. The 6’5″ veteran is connecting on 45% of his 3.1 three-point attempts per game.
  • The Wizards‘ front office may want to make power forward Kyle Kuzma, who is thriving in the first year of a reasonable three-season, $39MM contract, part of the team’s long-term future, opines Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Kuzma has a player option for the 2023/24 season, but if he keeps up this output, Robbins anticipates that the forward will opt out to test the free agent market in 2023. The 26-year-old is averaging 16.3 PPG, 8.8 RPG and 3.1 APG on .452/.334/.703 shooting splits this season.