Trae Young often ran a transition offense in college for the Oklahoma Sooners, which would be a major change of pace for the Atlanta Hawks.
Only three teams in the country had more field-goal attempts come from a transition offense than Oklahoma (31.1 percent) last season.
The Hawks ranked last in the Eastern Conference in terms of frequency running this play type (12.2 percent). For comparison, the Sooners operated in transition on 22.9 percent of possessions and it was their most-used offense.
Young was used on this play type in 20.9 percent of possessions last year. Including his possessions that ended in assists, he averaged 1.47 points per possession when in transition. This ranked in the 82nd percentile, according to Synergy Sports.
Speeding things up should be incredibly helpful to Young’s new teammates Kent Bazemore and John Collins. Bazemore averaged 1.31 PPP when in transition for Atlanta, which ranked No. 10 overall (minimum: 100 possessions) in the NBA among high-volume contributors. Collins was 36-for-44 (75.0 percent) on these attempts, which ranked Top 5 among those with as many opportunities.
Their new big man Alex Len also performed well in transition over the past two years with the Phoenix Suns, averaging 1.19 PPP. While he wasn’t used very often on this play type, he will likely benefit from playing alongside Young.
In his rookie season, Atlanta’s DeAndre Bembry was also above average when in transition.
But the player who should be most excited is Taurean Prince, who has thus far been used in transition on nearly 20 percent of possessions during his professional career. Read what Peach Tree Hoops writer Glen Willis said about Prince’s game back in March 2017 (via SB Nation):
“The Hawks continue to struggle on offense, especially in the half court. Any opportunities that can be created in the transition game for high percentage shots have immense value. Prince’s ability and willingness to work for and convert these opportunities is a very encouraging development in his overall game.”
Now without former point guard Dennis Schroder in the picture, the Hawks might be a lot more willing to give another go at running a transition offense. Schroder averaged 0.91 PPP on this play type, which ranked 126 out of 138 players who had at least 100 possessions in transition. Also, he turned the ball over way too much.
According to Jeff Siegel, the Hawks’ former head coach, Mike Budenholzer, had offensive philosophies that were “always going to hold the team back” in transition.
Siegel has written at length about why the team was reluctant to go this route in the past (via SB Nation):
“Playing faster means something different for Budenholzer. He comes from the Spurs, where Gregg Popovich’s teams play with pace and purpose but are nowhere near the top of the league in transition usage nor possessions per game. San Antonio routinely push the ball up the floor, whether after a defensive rebound or made basket, to get into their sets early and use as much of the clock as possible to find the best shot available. When Budenholzer preaches to his team that he wants them to play faster, this is what he means.”
Now under new leadership with head coach Lloyd Pierce and Young at point guard, things may change this season.