The Atlanta Hawks have not gotten off to the start they hoped coming off of a surprising visit to the Eastern Conference Finals a year ago. With much of the same roster back in place, better health, and some added bench depth, there were lofty expectations for the Hawks to once again be in the hunt for a top-4 seed this season.
However, at 4-6, Atlanta has stumbled out of the gates as Trae Young has been among the many stars around the league to see their offensive impact take a hit to open the season. Offense is down around the league and there are plenty of factors at play, from a new ball to the typical slow start for offenses, but among the biggest talking points is the new emphasis on limiting shooting fouls. Young the league leader in made free throw a year ago and third in free throw attempts at 7.7 makes and 8.7 attempts per game, respectively. This season, that has dropped to 5.3 makes and 5.8 attempts per game, a considerable dip that, coupled with a drop in efficiency from the field shooting 41 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from three, has led to lots of chatter about its impact on his game.
It’s very possible that it’s just an early season slump, but Young’s frustration with the officiating and the contact allowed so far has been apparent. On Saturday night in a loss to the Suns that saw the Hawks offense stall down the stretch and, per coach Nate McMillan, lose their “poise” late in a game that saw them blow a double digit lead. Within that was Young getting a technical foul after he got on the officials for not calling a foul on Chris Paul as he badgered De’Andre Hunter. After the game, a Hawks fan noticed the TV broadcast seemed to catch the ref turn to the bench and rub his eyes to mimic crying as Young walked away, and the star guard wasn’t too pleased when he saw it.
… Hmm Interesting.
— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) November 7, 2021
Two things can be true in an instance like this, as Young probably needs to find a way to turn his focus away from the officiating in key moments, but it’s also a dreadful look for the official and something the league probably will need to look into and could possibly earn him a suspension. However frustrating it might be to get barked at all game by players, that’s not something an official can do and unsurprisingly, Hawks fans and Trae Young aren’t appreciative of the gesture.