As the NBA reaches the midway point of the season, the race for all-star selections intensifies, especially in the Eastern Conference, where the competition among guards is closer than ever. Among the plethora of talents across the league’s different backcourts is Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young, whose sharpshooting and elite playmaking help make a strong case for not only his third all-star selection but potentially a spot in the starting lineup as well.
The east is stacked with dynamic guards also making strong campaigns this season so how does Young compare to the other stars? Young’s 27.7 points per game along with 11.1 assists per game both stand above his career averages and rank in the top seven in the league this season. His ability to score the ball while getting his teammates involved has been a driving force behind the Hawks’ offense.
Indiana Pacers’ guard Tyrese Haliburton has solidified himself as one of the most electrifying players in the league during the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament, averaging 26.7 points, 13.3 assists, and 4.9 rebounds. Haliburton’s emergence as a star aligns with him playing in front of the Pacers fans, as the all-star game takes place in Indianapolis this season.
Another guard making a strong case for an all-star spot is Damian Lillard of the Milwaukee Bucks. After switching teams during the off-season, Lillard immediately made an impact alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo, leading the Bucks to one of the best records in the league. While Lillard’s 25 points per game are considered average for his career, the impressive resume he compiled in Portland, hitting clutch shot after clutch shot, has made him a household name who is always mentioned in all-star conversations.
Up and coming Philadelphia 76ers’ star Tyrese Maxey has also made an argument to be selected to the All-Star game as well as New York Knicks’ Jalen Brunson, and Cleveland Cavaliers’ Donovan Mitchell who continue to make compelling cases for their inclusion. While Young’s offensive abilities consistently rank among the best each year, the way he’s affecting other parts of the game makes his all-star campaign especially strong this year. His career-high one and a half steals per game rank in the top 10 so far this season.
Despite the criticism for his defense, Young has improved from past seasons, providing more intensity that extends beyond the box score. This was put on display as he took a game-deciding charge in a win against the San Antonio Spurs, showing his commitment to impacting the game on both sides of the floor.
The only aspect stopping Young from starting in the all-star game seems to be the Hawks’ lack of wins where they stand as the 12th seed in the East. Atlanta’s subpar records both at home and on the road present a challenge that might weigh against Young’s candidacy despite his individual success.
As the season progresses, Young’s undeniable skill set and impact on the game make a strong argument for his inclusion in the NBA all-star roster, and potentially the starting lineup.