Austin Rivers compares Trae Young’s struggles to Devin Booker’s workload
Atlanta Hawks rookie point guard Trae Young has seen the effects of the rookie wall very early in his NBA career, as he’s struggling to carry the same electric pace he showed during his lone year at the University of Oklahoma with his new NBA team. Young is shooting 37.7 percent on the season and a futile 23.9 percent from deep. His most recent outing against Austin Rivers and the Washington Wizards didn’t do him any favors to help improve his porous shooting line.
Rivers started in place of John Wall (who missed Wednesday’s game due to the birth of his son) and picked up Young from half-court on defense, making every look difficult for the 20-year-old.
“I mean, it’s crazy. It’s crazy. My shooting percentage is so bad right now and teams are still pressing up on me just like I was shooting 80 percent,” Young said with a hint of a smile, according to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. “It just shows a sign of respect for the level of shooting ability and what I can do outside the arc,” Young continued. “That means teams still believe I can do what I was capable of doing, what I’ve been doing my whole life.”
Rivers defended the Hawks rookie with utmost respect for his ability, closing out on shots from way behind the hash mark and limiting possibilities of threatening from beyond the arc.
“He’s 23 percent but I treat him like he’s f***ing Steph or Dame [Lillard] or whoever’s out there. So I picked him up at half court. That’s why he wasn’t able to get any threes off really,” Rivers said. “Because of the shots he shoots, even the deep threes, it’s like a momentum builder. Everybody goes crazy because of how deep he shoots it. So it’s like more than three points because if he hits one of those, the crowd starts going crazy.”
Rivers diagnosed the issue in a nutshell, as Young is a high draft pick with a genuine target on his back, but with no help to allow him to take the crosshairs out of him.
“He needs another guard to help him get easy looks. And right now they have wings and it’s him. They don’t have another point guard [or] shooting guard. So it’s tough,” Rivers said. “It’s like watching the Suns right now. If you watch Devin Booker, everything he does is like so tough. He has to work his a** off to get 30 points because everybody just loads up on Devin. He needs another guard to help him relieve pressure.
“Everything’s off the dribble, everything’s pick-and-roll where he has to dribble,” Rivers concluded about Young. “It’s just hard.”
Booker shot only 42.3 percent from the field as a rookie, but did so without the grand expectations of a lottery pick like the Hawks guard. As he grew into a starting role, his percentages didn’t improve by much, registering the highest amount of unassisted field goals by any shooting guard in the league — a testament of just how much of the workload he handles on a nightly basis.