Atlanta Hawks Star Backcourt Proving To Be Ideal Pairing

Atlanta Hawks, Dejounte Murray, Trae Young, NBA Trade Rumors
NBA Analysis Network

During the 2022 NBA offseason, the Atlanta Hawks set out to make a splash. After advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals, they decided to run back essentially the same roster for the 2021-22 season. It proved to be the wrong decision as Atlanta failed to regain that same magic, winning the NBA Play-In Tournament but losing in the first round of the 2022 playoffs against the Miami Heat.

Not looking to repeat that mistake, the Hawks made a blockbuster trade acquiring Dejounte Murray from the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Danilo Gallinari, three unprotected first-round picks and a pick swap. They also traded Kevin Huerter to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Justin Holiday, Maurice Harkless and a future first-round pick.

Thus far, the results are as good as the Hawks could have asked for. There are only three teams in the NBA that have more than their eight wins; the Milwaukee Bucks, who are 10-1 with their only loss being to the Hawks, the 10-3 Utah Jazz and the 9-3 Portland Trail Blazers. Five other teams, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns, Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies, have eight wins as well, as there is still plenty of work for Atlanta to do.

Nate McMillan has a deep, talented, versatile roster that goes 10-deep every night. They are getting solid production from all of their recent first-round picks with their two most recent ones, Jalen Johnson and A.J. Griffin, rounding out the rotation.

LATEST NBA NEWS: Trae Young, Dejounte Murray & Atlanta Hawks Updates

However, it is Murray who is having the biggest impact on the team. He is bringing everything together in the fashion that the organization had hoped for when they acquired him and is proving to be the perfect complement to Trae Young in the backcourt.

Young is struggling mightily offensively, as his 27.5 points and 9.2 assists per game look good, but he is doing it inefficiently. Young is shooting 37.4 percent from the field and 30.6 percent from 3-point range. He is being bailed out with 8.5 free throw attempts per game, which he is connecting on at a 92.5 percent clip.

In years past, this is something that would have likely derailed the Hawks from finding any success, a shooting slump of that level for Young. But, with Murray in the mix, things are moving right along and they are continuing to win.

Murray is finding plenty of success despite not having the ball in his hands as much as he did with San Antonio. The 21.6 points per game he is averaging would be a career-high. Having a second go-to option of that talent alongside Young is something the Hawks desperately needed as Murray is also averaging 8.1 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game as he stuffs the stat sheet on a nightly basis.

LATEST NBA NEWS: Trae Young, Dejounte Murray & Atlanta Hawks Updates

What is most impressive about this start is that the Hawks aren’t relying solely on their offense for it. In fact, it is their defense that is outperforming their offense after 12 games and that is something that can be directly tied to Murray’s presence on the court.

Murray should be a regular on the All-Defensive Teams. He has the size and length to defend both backcourt positions and most wings, providing Atlanta with the perfect fit alongside Young, who is a sieve defensively and needs to be hidden on that end of the court.

After years of struggling on defense, Atlanta is currently 10th in the NBA in defensive rating with a 110.2. Offensively, they are a surprising 14th with a 112.8. They are still playing at a fast pace, ranking sixth in the league in that category, but they now have the two-way players to find success in doing it.

LATEST NBA NEWS: Trae Young, Dejounte Murray & Atlanta Hawks Updates

Along with Murray, John Collins and Clint Capela are all having excellent seasons defensively. Griffin is showcasing the 3-and-D potential that made him the 16th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft and Johnson is providing solid production defensively as well in the first consistent rotation minutes of his career.

A lot of credit deserves to go to Murray, who is everything the Hawks could have hoped for and more as a running mate for Young in the backcourt.