2019-20 Kia Season Preview

Trae Young gladly accepts role as new face of Hawks

Second-year guard is eager to lead a young Atlanta squad this season

ATLANTA (AP) — Trae Young gladly accepted his role as the new face of the Atlanta Hawks.

He knows he will have to step up his game even more to make the franchise relevant in the NBA.

Young had a brilliant debut season, averaging 19.1 points and 8.1 assists per game while showing fearlessness in clutch situations. He finished as runner-up to Dallas’ Luka Doncic in rookie of the year balloting.

“I had pretty much everything thrown at me at least a couple of times last year,” Young said. “I know it’s going to be even tougher this year, but that’s something you work on during the summer and something I knew I needed to be even more prepared for. Be able to adjust at any moment to what defenses are trying to do.”

Even with two of the NBA’s top young players in Young and high-flying John Collins, the Hawks struggled to a 29-53 record. They are still in the midst of a massive rebuilding job, so it will be another year or two before they are ready to make a big push in the free-agent market.

Young thrives on those who doubt him and his team.

“There’s never going to be 100% of the people on my side, and that’s OK,” he said. “That chip of proving people wrong will always be there.”

> Season Preview: Atlanta Hawks