'It's special': Trae Young named an All-Star while visiting his home state of Oklahoma
Hawks guard Trae Young had to check with his training staff Friday morning to see if he was scheduled for a weightlifting session. Because if they had texted him that information Thursday night, he had missed it.
“Congratulations” messages began to flood Young’s phone as soon as his photo appeared on the TNT Tip-off show. Young was headed to his first All-Star game, and he was doing so with the most votes of any Eastern Conference guard.
“I was super excited,” Young recalled at morning shootaround, before facing the Thunder Friday evening. “Just started tearing up, and emotions were just flowing. It felt a lot like all the hard work and all that I put into the summer and the offseason just paid off. Obviously, I want to continue to get better and win some more games with this team, but me being an All-Star has definitely been a dream of mine.”
The Hawks acquired Young, the point guard it planned to build a team around, in draft-night trade a year and a half ago. Atlanta sent Luka Doncic (No. 3 overall pick) to Dallas, in exchange for Young (No. 5 overall) and a 2019 first-round pick.
“People were questioning whether or not he was the right pick,” Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. “Whether or not he was a good enough player, or whether he could play at this level with that type of efficiency. And now we’re seeing he’s voted in as a starter in the Eastern Conference in his second year. So, in 18 to 20 months, we’ve gone from doubts and questions to, he’s a legit All-Star, and well deserved."
An argument still could be made that Atlanta should have held onto Doncic – he is an MVP candidate in his second year in the NBA, after all. But Young’s play this year has tempered the criticism.
Young, a former Norman North and Sooners star, is the NBA’s third-leading scorer this season. Harden (36.6 points per game) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (30.0) are the only players averaging more points than Young (29.2).
The main objection to his All-Star candidacy was his team’s 11-34 record.
“He should make it,” Pierce said. “He should make it because he’s had a hell of a year. You always try and figure out the definitions of MVP and All-Star and All-NBA and all those things. I just know in All-Star it’s about the players. And the players are the guys that when they’re on the court, their performance is what puts them in a conversation or a position to be an All-Star. And there’s no doubt in my mind he’s one of the top 12 players in the Eastern Conference.”
Fans seemed to agree, as evident by the 2,829,969 votes they cast for Young. He also received 65 player votes and 47 media votes.
Young heard the news surrounded by loved ones. The Hawks traveled to OKC Thursday afternoon, so Young gathered his parents, two of his siblings and a couple teammates at his house to watch the announcement on TNT that evening.
“To hear the news and be in Oklahoma,” Young said, “it’s special.”