Report: Hawks' John Collins Has 'Several Issues' with Trae Young Running Offense

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 8, 2021

Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins (20) reacts with guard Trae Young (11) in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)
Todd Kirkland/Associated Press

Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins reportedly voiced his issues with the manner in which the team's offense runs through guard Trae Young during a meeting Tuesday.

According to Chris Kirschner and Sam Amick of The Athletic, the meeting took place one day after the Hawks blew 15-point leads and lost back-to-back games to the Cleveland Cavaliers in New York Knicks. During the meeting, Collins reportedly said the Hawks "need to get into offensive sets more quickly and to limit all those early shot-clock attempts that leave his teammates on the outside looking in."

Collins also reportedly said he wanted to be involved in an offense with more ball movement and flow than the one that Young currently dominates.

There was reportedly no back-and-forth conversation between Collins and Young, but the latter "made it clear" to others after the meeting that he disagreed with the former's opinion.

Kirschner and Amick reached out to Collins after the fact, but he neither confirmed nor denied that the meeting took place, texting: "Trae is my brother regardless."

Per Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Young said the following when asked about Collins' reported concerns:

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"I know me and John have set the bar high for ourselves, but we're still 22 and 23 years old. There's a lot we can get better at. There's going to be times where we are going to talk and there's going to be times when teammates are going to talk about what we see and what we feel and what we can get better at. That's a part of basketball. That's a part of this game. You talk and you communicate and you don't always agree with each other. And that's a part of this game that makes it so fun and you learn and you grow as you go on."

Since getting off to a red-hot 4-1 start this season, the talented Hawks have experienced a slide, losing each of their past three games against suspect competition in the form of the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks and Charlotte Hornets.

That trio may all be better than they were last season, but those are the types of teams Atlanta needs to feast on if it wants to reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2016-17 campaign.

In the Hawks' 96-91 loss to the Cavaliers, they led by 12 points at halftime. Then Atlanta blew a four-point halftime lead and an even bigger second-half lead in a 113-108 loss to New York.

Young has put up big numbers this season with 25.9 points, 8.4 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game, but they have largely been empty stats during the Hawks' slide. Meanwhile, Collins is second on the team in both scoring and rebounding with 17.9 points and 7.5 boards per game.

Collins' reported critique is Young has received dating back to his one season of college basketball at the University of Oklahoma. Young averaged 27.4 points and 8.7 assists per game for the Sooners in 2017-18, but they went on a late-season losing streak and backed their way into the NCAA men's basketball tournament before losing to Rhode Island in the first round. Ultimately, OU went just 18-14.

In Young's first two NBA seasons, the Hawks finished 29-53 and 20-47, respectively, which raises the question of whether teams can win at a high level with Young running the show. Perhaps they can, but Collins apparently believes the Hawks would benefit from getting others involved in the offense rather than allowing Young to run roughshod.