What a day it is, to be an unwavering Trae Young fan.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve said that the only thing standing between the Atlanta Hawks and an NBA title is a 6-foot-1ish point guard. Sunday night, the world saw the Genesis.
Playing against the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that has been to the past four NBA Finals and then spent the summer doing some long-term restructuring, rookie point guard Trae Young walked into The House That Junior Nance built, confident. Unafraid. Loose. Clean. Thoughtful. Patient. Kind.
It was his third professional game. I was in attendance for his first, in Madison Square Garden, against the New York Knicks. It was a tough game, but there were flashes of brilliance, especially when it came to passes and shots and dribbles. But alas, that was Tim Hardaway Jr.’s night, a 31-point performance that will undoubtedly be replayed on the MSG Network on Sunday mornings for decades to come.
I missed the second Hawks game this past Friday, against the Memphis Grizzlies. The first three episodes of The Romanoffs were on Amazon Prime, so, you know, turn up. What I did learn, however, was that the Hawks put up 117 in a loss. One-hundred-seventeen points, following a 107-point effort against the Knicks.
We were losing, but this was good. Also, Trae Young scored 20 in his second game, following a 14-point effort against the Knicks.
So what does Trae Young do, to cap off his first full week of professional regular-season basketball? 35 points. 11 assists. And the result for his team—a 22-point blowout of the Cavaliers, with 133 total points.
Here’s a 2D graph of Trae Young’s points and the Hawks’ points, so far this season.
Thirty-five and 11—it’s an impressive stat line, for anyone, in basketball, ever. But after consulting the history books, it’s all the more noteworthy. Since 2000, only three rookies have posted 35 and 10.
LeBron James. Steph Curry. Trae Young.
Before 2000, only four players had 35 points and 10 assists.
Michael Jordan. Jason Kidd. Allen Iverson. Sherman Douglas.
What a list this is, seemingly nothing but Hall of Famers and Future Hall of Famers: LeBron, Steph, Michael, Jason, Allen, Sherman, Trae.
For months now, people have been laughing (or cringing) at the Hawks for trading Luka Doncic for Trae Young. Some might even say I was one of those people. Yes, on draft night, I screamed at the top of my lungs that I couldn’t believe we gave away Based Luka for Trae, who resembles a B2K alternate. And when I said that, people laughed.
Here’s the thing—joke’s on them. Because I love B2K. All of them, Omarion, Raz-B, J-Boog, and of course Lil Fizz. They’re the Boys of the New Millennium, after all. You Got Served? Classic film. “Baby turn around / and let me see that sexy body go / bump bump bump”—who wrote that, B2K or Toni Morrison? Answer: probably both.
So to think this was a sneak diss on the Chosen One is just ignorant. A B2K alternate means you’re the fifth boy of the millenium. And as many learned Sunday night and myself via two texts Monday morning that said “TRAE YOUNG,” he’s not just the boy of the new millenium—he’s GAM2K, a Grown Ass Man. Of the new Millennium.
But of course, don’t only take my word for it, that King Trae is here to stae. For months now, if you typed in “Trae Young L” into Twitter’s search bar, it would immediately populate Luka Doncic.
Look at it today.
On Wednesday, the Hawks have their first home game of the season, against the Dallas Mavericks. Yes, that means it’s Luka vs. Trae. Is this the most exciting non-spitpunch game of the season, absolutely it is. Luka has been hot too, scoring 26 over the weekend on the basketball team that is in Minnesota. But that was against the basketball team that is in Minnesota—we’re talking about the Trae Young–led Atlanta Hawks in The House That State Farm Just Bought From Philips.
My prediction: I’m glad you asked. I’m a math guy, always have been, always will be. The abacus, calculators, rulers, protractors, that game when you put all the jelly beans in the jar and then guess it—I can’t get enough.
Anyway, based on the data we have, I’m forced to assume the Hawks will win. That they will score 158 points. And that Trae Young will have 41 points and 19 assists. Also, with three days between Sunday night’s game and Wednesday, that’s more than enough time for Ludacris and JD to record a Trae Young anthem.
What a time to be a Hawks fan and to have been right about Trae Young the entire time, never wavering once, privately or publicly or on group text which is kind of in the middle. It’s always been #TrueToAtlanta, but come Wednesday it’s #TraeToAtlanta.
Brace yourself, NBA. The Atlanta Hawks are back (again) for the first time.
An earlier version of this piece spelled Philips with two L’s.