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Atlanta Hawks

Atlanta Hawks' Trae Young and John Collins are quietly becoming one of the NBA's most exciting duos

Sure, the Hawks have only won 23 games this season, but the Atlanta fanbase has plenty of reasons to be excited.

Rookie Trae Young has grabbed the headlines this season with his absurd, defence-warping three-point shooting and scoring outbursts, taking his game to another level since the All-Star break.

Post-Charlotte, Young is averaging 25.7 points per game, 8.9 assists and 4.6 rebounds on 43.2% shooting from the field and 42.7% from deep, forming a lethal combination with second-year big man John Collins.

While Young's scoring is the first thing that grabs your attention, his passing and playmaking aren't too far behind. The 20-year-old always has his eyes up ahead of the play, searching for ways to exploit defences, leveraging his shooting ability to create space as defences cannot afford to play him loose. We all now how that will end.

In today's 132-111 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, the Hawks' young duo put on a show, combining for the play of the game, a 60-foot alley-oop jam that had the home arena on their feet.

Young finished with 22 points and eight assists, while Collins added 27 points and 12 rebounds.

Lost in Young's spectacular start has been the quiet, yet rapid improvement of Collins. The 21-year-old is averaging 24.1 points per game and 11.4 rebounds on 57.5% shooting from the field and 47.6% from three since the All-Star break.

The Hawks are nine points per hundred possessions better when he's on the court and his ability to finish at the rim, work in the pick-and-roll and knock down the occasional three-point shot offers the Hawks plenty of different looks on offense.

Collins' real strength lies in his ability as a finisher, with a superb touch around the rim and a knack for being in the right place at the right time. He and Young are a match made in heaven and ultimately need each other to continue their on-court success.

While Collins' jump shot has improved a lot since he entered the league, in particular from the three-point line (37% on 2.5 attempts per game), he is still developing in terms of creating his own shot, but with a playmaker like Young in the driver's seat, Collins has been able to effectively produce, finishing off plays.

75.3% of Collins baskets are asissted and per NBA.com, Young has assisted him on 125 of his 292 assisted baskets this season.

John Collins by the numbers

YEAR MINS PTS REB FG% 3PT% REB% TS% USG%
20/17/18 24.1 10.5 9.8 57.6 35.7 14.7 62.0 17.2
2018/19 29.8 19.9 7.3 57.4 37.0 15.8 64.3 23.0

Second-year players are supposed to improve....that's the whole point right? But there is an argument for Collins to get some serious Most Improved Player of the year consideration.

Collins has nearly doubled his offensive production, playing an extra six minutes a night this season and has maintinaed his efficiency, with the Hawks playing at the second-fastest pace in the league.

"I feel like I should be in the conversation," Collins said via Ben Stinar. I feel like the only other person, a couple of people that have a true shot are [Pascal] Siakam and D'Angelo [Russell] who's an All-Star.

"I feel like I'm competing against those two guys, and I have a damn good resume."

Add rookie Kevin Huerter to the equation and the Hawks currently have three players aged 21 or under, who look set to be cornerstones of the franchise for years to come.

Just seven months removed from the Luka Doncic x Trae Young trade, the Hawks are in position add even more talent to their bright young squad, with the Mavs owing them their first round pick in the draft if it lands outside of the top five in the draft lottery.

Things are already bright in Atlanta, but the best is yet to come.

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