The Lloyd Pierce/Trae Young era began on Monday morning at the Atlanta Hawks practice facility in Brookhaven as Young (fifth overall pick by Dallas, traded to Atlanta along with 2019 protected first round pick) and fellow first-round draft picks Kevin Huerter (19th overall pick) and Omari Spellman (30th) were formally introduced to the Atlanta-based media.
A large media contingent gathered before a stage set near center court of the practice facility to greet the newcomers.
The Atlanta Hawks came into last Thursday night’s draft with as many holes and subsequent roster questions as any team in the league, if not the most questions – Phoneix may beg to differ — and drafted three players that may solve a few of those problems.
One of whom was the fifth overall pick after leading the country in scoring and assists while at the University of Oklahoma. Trae Young says he’s ready for the pressure that comes along with being a top-five draft pick of a team chest-deep in the mire that is a rebuild.
“I’m just a piece of the puzzle, I’m not the whole thing, I’m just a piece and I’m ready to get going,” said Young towards the end of the press conference, hosted by Fox Sports South television announcer Bob Rathbun, while sandwiched between Huerter and Spellman to his right and team general manager Travis Schlenk to his immediate left.
“Wherever I am at I want to win championships,” Young said. “We can’t look ahead, we can’t skip steps.”
Though they too are first-round picks, Huerter and Spellman will not have unrealistic expectations thrust upon them like Young will. He’s the dynamic point guard that lit the college basketball world on fire last season, at least for the first three months anyway, and comes to Atlanta with a lot resting on his shoulders.
“All that matters to me is what I do on the court and how hard I prepare,” said Young, in response to a question about being ready to play on one of the NBA’s youngest teams.
“The way I grew up I have answered those questions,” answered Young in regards to his physical fitness for the job at hand, playing point guard in the NBA. Young says he’s added 17 pounds to his frame since the end of the college basketball season.
“I feel more explosive than I did last year,” he said.
Asked about his friendship with Atlanta rappers the Migos, winners of the BET award for “Best Group” during Sunday night’s award show in Los Angeles, Young said, “I’m sure I’ll get to see them soon.”
Told, jokingly by a member of the media that the platinum-selling rap group keeps “late hours,” Young replied, “My late hours are for sleep and at the gym.”
The new Atlanta Hawks point guard just might have this thing figured out.