Rift Forming in Atlanta

John Collins and Trae Young Clash

The Atlanta Hawks improved greatly over the abbreviated NBA offseason. They added talent with Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari, and Kris Dunn. They also added a veteran piece in Rajon Rondo to help mentor Trae Young and the other young players on this Atlanta Hawks roster. Atlanta is a team that has playoff aspirations in the 2020–21 NBA season.

The Hawks kicked off the 2020–21 season looking very impressive winning their first 3 games. They looked every bit as advertised. A team that is going to take and make plenty of 3-point field goals. A team that plays tough, tenacious defense getting after their opponents with full-court pressure and getting into passing lanes creating turnovers.

Their young core of Trae Young, Cam Reddish, DeAndre Hunter, Kevin Huerter, John Collins among others have been playing phenomenal basketball leading to the hot start to the season. However, since starting 3–0, the Hawks have dropped 3 of their last 4 games. They now sit at 4–4 with more questions surrounding their team than answers.

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Opposing defenses have realized that if you can shut down Trae Young, you can shut down the Hawks. Trae is the catalyst of the offense. He has the ball in his hands every possession, and sometimes, he is the only person who touches the ball on any given possession. Atlanta’s big men, and other players simply set a plethora of screens to get Trae Young open. While Trae is a great facilitator of the Basketball, he is a ‘Score first’ point guard. He is very similar to players like James Harden or Kyrie Irving who are ball dominant point guards. This style of play can rub your teammates the wrong way, particularly when you start to lose games.

Apparently, Hawks power forward John Collins recently expressed his displeasure with the way Trae Young runs the offense during a film session with the team. He is unhappy with how he is being utilized in the offense as simply a screen and roll or screen and pop player. There is no opportunity for Collins to catch the ball on the perimeter or in the post and operate on his defender. While I can see where he is coming from with his displeasure, he really isn’t the type of player that needs to or is capable of creating his own shot. Most of his points come off the screen and roll with Trae Young. In these plays, Young will toss Collins an alley-oop or pocket pass. This way, all Collins has to do is catch the ball and attack the basket either to score or draw a foul.

Trae Young disagreed with Collins’ displeasure in how the offense is being run through Trae and now a rift has formed between the two players. There is no telling how long this acumen has been going on with Collins and his disdain for the way he is being utilized. This has all come out of left field. On the court, it looks like the two young players have great chemistry and Collins benefits greatly from having a player like Trae Young who can facilitate the ball to players in scoring positions making everyone around him better.

As I previously mentioned, I do get where Collins is coming from in terms of his frustration, but if he takes a step back and looks at the situation, I would hope he understands the fact that without Trae Young as his point guard, Collins would not be the player he has developed into today.

This will be a story to watch moving forward, especially with the way the Hawks have struggled of late. Does Atlanta look to strike a deal for Collins? OR will the Hawks try to resolve the situation internally and push toward the ultimate goal of making the playoffs and beyond?

The Hawks offered Collins a 4 year deal worth just under $100 million and Collins declined so he could easily be a trade candidate prior to the deadline.

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