As the sun gleamed through our kitchen windows this morning, I looked at my beautiful wife and asked if she knew what today was on the calendar. Her eyes lit up before I said, “It’s Trae Young and Dejounte Murray’s birthdays! They have the same birthday. How weird is that?”
Her excited expression suddenly melted away. “It’s also our six-month wedding anniversary.” I should probably get used to the morning sunlight’s reflection as I will be sleeping on the couch for the foreseeable future.
There are two lessons to be learned from my unforced error. First, set calendar reminders on your phone. Second, both fans and media alike are really excited about the upcoming Atlanta Hawks season.
My matrimonial shortcomings aside, the 2022-23 NBA season is so close we can almost taste it. The Hawks Media Day is this Friday. After that, we all embark on another marathon season. It’s all I’ve been thinking about since Atlanta’s front office pulled off a blockbuster trade for Murray in late June.
Young, 24, and Murray, 26, have not even come close to entering the prime of their careers. Young is coming off a historic individual season that culminated in an All-NBA selection. Murray was named to his first All-Star team despite playing for a San Antonio Spurs team that finished 14 games under .500.
Does an All-Star backcourt guarantee success? No. Once again, almost the entire Eastern Conference improved this offseason. Like an episode of the HBO drama Succession, teams keep trying to one-up their competitors in order to win the ultimate prize (except, in this case, an NBA Championship, not Waystar Royco Company).
Additionally, it will take time for Young and Murray to gel. Last season, Young had a usage rate of 33.3% and led the NBA in points scored off the pick-and-roll. Meanwhile, Murray had a usage rate of 26.8% and led the Spurs in points and assists.
Asking the driver of the Hawks offense to toss the car keys to another player is no small request. But Young is up to the challenge. He has spent all summer preparing to play off the ball to better accommodate Murray. We have seen Young training with Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry and his personal shooting coach.
Hawks fans should be excited about their dynamic young backcourt. On paper, this is the best roster since the 2014-15 squad. As always, excitement should be tempered with patience. But today, Young and Murray (as well as Hawks faithful) have reason to celebrate.
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