Even though Atlanta Hawks rookie guard Trae Young is known for his outside shot, there are some other key elements to his game many overlook.
Often lauded for his court vision and basketball intelligence, it is also worth noting that the 20-year-old already has displayed one of the NBA’s best floating jump shots. Also referred to as a floater or a teardrop or a runner, it’s an invaluable asset as it’s an efficient look from the short mid-range zone.
“It’s very important to have that in my arsenal,” said Young, when he spoke to HoopsHype’s Alex Kennedy. “It keeps the defenders who are guarding me off their balance because they do not necessarily know if I’m going to shoot a floater or throw a lob or continue to try to get a layup.”
Young currently ranks in the 78th percentile among players at his position on short mid-range looks, per Cleaning the Glass. This is thanks, in large part, to the success he has on teardrops.
His father actually helped him develop this technique by having him shoot over a broomstick when he was growing up. Kennedy also touched based with Trae’s dad, Ray Young, who discussed this method.
“Trae and I would always go to the YMCA after his school practices and work on his ‘under-the-rim’ game,” Ray said. “I always had a broom while standing in the middle of the lane. With the reach, it was about 8-feet tall. We just constantly worked on maintaining his balance after driving to the rim at full speed and, eventually, getting the ball up over the ‘defender’ – the broom – and trying to put as much touch on the ball as possible.”
Bleacher Report’s draft analyst Jonathan Wasserman has described it as one of Trae’s “elite” skills. In fact, it is how he connected on his first professional regular-season bucket.
Young has already scored 186 points on runners so far this season, per Synergy Sports, which trails only Mike Conley (227) for the most in the NBA. Perhaps that is one reason Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce has compared his rookie floor general to Conley in the past.
Young has scored 121 points on these shots when dribbling off the pick as the ballhandler in a pick-and-roll offense and another 30 points on this play type during spot-up opportunities. Both rank as the second-most in the league thus far.
These shots look particularly pretty when they are coming from as far back as the free throw line. The first-year sensation told HoopsHype that he has drawn from some of the greats when working on his own floater.
“I loved Steve Nash when I was growing up, along with guys like Chris Paul and Tony Parker,” explained the former Oklahoma star. “All of those guys can shoot the floater really well and they have a really nice touch. I would say that those are a few of the guys who I really looked up to when it comes to floaters.”
During his time at Oklahoma, he scored 2.0 points per game off runners.
Only two players who were on rosters in the NCAA Division-I Power 5 conferences (Marquette’s Markus Howard and Northwestern’s Bryant McIntosh) were more effective than Young.
According to Synergy, his overall points per possession on floaters while at Oklahoma ranked in the 81st percentile. This year against NBA competition, that number is still high and currently falls in the 68th percentile.
AJC.com’s Michael Cunningham noted how these shots have allowed him to get to the free-throw line with increased frequency. Young has been fouled on 3.0 percent of his floater attempts, via Synergy.
For comparison, that’s quite a bit more than others who often finish possessions in this way including D’Angelo Russell (0.7 percent), Luka Doncic (1.4 percent) and Monte Morris (1.7 percent) so far this season.
Young knows that he can have success whether he is drawing a foul from the contact, connecting on the look or even faking it out to a pass.
“It’s just another tool that I keep in my back pocket and I can always use it to get my defender off-balanced,” said the Rookie of the Year candidate. “It’s a great weapon to have.”
HoopsHype’s Alex Kennedy contributed reporting to this feature.