Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks will open up their 2021-22 regular season on Thursday night. After an improbable run to the Eastern Conference Finals last year, the franchise has its sights set on even more.
However, Young doesn’t think that the national media is giving the Hawks the respect they deserve headed into a new season. Although not predicted by most, last year’s deep playoff run was expected by those within Atlanta’s organization, including the All-Star point guard.
Young always seems to be looking for a way to put another chip on his shoulder. He did so last year in Madison Square Garden when New York Knicks fans rained down insults on him during the Hawks first-round win. On Tuesday night, he apparently found more fuel for the upcoming season.
Young said that during TNT’s broadcast of the game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets, someone on air mentioned that it was a repeat of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. In reality, the two clubs had met the round before and the Bucks won the thrilling series 4-3.
The Hawks came out of the other side of the bracket, which Young and fans in Atlanta remember well. That’s why the comment on the broadcast irked the 23-year-old so much and made him realize that he needed to prove everyone wrong yet again.
“I don’t think we get the respect we deserve. I watch a lot of TV. I see people mentioning all of the acquisitions everyone is getting. No one is mentioning us,” Young said, per The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner. “The Milwaukee-Brooklyn game, they mentioned how they were in the Eastern Finals. It was just mind blowing.”
NBA fans have taken notice that the Hawks haven’t been getting ample attention during the preseason, despite returning all of the major contributors from last year’s team. Many also recognized that Young’s comments revealed that he’s found even more fire to bring into the upcoming year, which makes Atlanta that much more dangerous.
2 wins from eliminating the eventual champions and reaching the Finals or not, never expected the Hawks to be treated as an actual contender this offseason
But yeah, I kinda thought the needle would move further than "Celtics, but different"
— Jerry Hinnen (@JerryHinnen) October 21, 2021
Trae coming for souls this year https://t.co/5QYZXGo5d0
— Socialsavant (@SocialsavantLLC) October 21, 2021
"You've got to prove it to everybody more than once, and that's OK."
— Trae Young https://t.co/1Wo7XuVdXA
— Sarah K. Spencer (@sarah_k_spence) October 21, 2021
I’m picturing Trae watching First Take in the mornings like this:
“Nowadays everybody wanna talk like they got something to say but nothing comes out when they move their lips, just a bunch of gibberish them muthafuckas act like they forgot about Trae” https://t.co/WTU0fNdOT5
— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) October 21, 2021
I definitely heard that too I was expecting them to correct themselves but they didn’t lol. Lol https://t.co/NTQmCokXr1
— The Atlanta Hawks (@awesomechillguy) October 21, 2021
TY bout to walk all over the Mavericks like a doormat. Can’t wait. https://t.co/APVYGfOwSn
— ᴋɪɴɢ sᴡɪᴘᴀ (@CaliBetter) October 21, 2021
The Hawks offseason certainly wasn’t the flashiest in the Eastern Conference, but it was productive. Atlanta locked up Young, Kevin Huerter, John Collins and Clint Capela with contract extensions, keeping their young core together under head coach Nate McMillan. The organization also added Delon Wright in a trade, Gorgui Dieng in free agency and rookies Jalen Johnson and Sharife Cooper in the draft.
The Hawks will have an uphill battle to face if they hope to get past the defending champion Bucks and others. However, the depth of the roster and an impressive amount of consistency should make the team frisky come playoff time.
Atlanta will will square off against the Dallas Mavericks Thursday in a primetime match-up on TNT. Tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET.