In the 2021 NBA playoffs, Trae Young joined Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James as the only players in NBA history to average at least 28 points and nine assists per game over an entire postseason run with at least 15 games played.
James completed this feat in 2018 with what could be considered one of the best playoff runs of all time. In his last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, James led a mediocre roster to the NBA Finals while averaging 34.0 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 9.0 assists. They ultimately lost in the Finals to the Golden State Warriors.
Young averaged 28.8 points and 9.5 assists over 16 postseason games, via StatMuse:
Players in NBA history to average 28+ PPG and 9+ APG in a single playoff run (min 15 games):
— LeBron James in 2018
— Trae Young in his first playoffs pic.twitter.com/vxHikeUGec
— StatMuse (@statmuse) July 4, 2021
Young led the Atlanta Hawks on a magical playoff run that many assumed would end in the first round. In that first round, they faced Julius Randle and the New York Knicks. Despite many predicting a competitive series, the Hawks made quick work of them. They won in five games with Young averaging 29.2 points and 9.8 assists for the series.
This set the Hawks on a collision course with the No. 1 seeded Philadelphia 76ers. Despite Joel Embiid playing through a partially torn meniscus, there were very few assuming the Hawks could be competitive against a more talented 76ers team.
Not only were Young and the Hawks competitive, but they also won the series in seven games, forcing the 76ers to answer some difficult questions about their future. Young averaged an absurd 29.0 points and 10.9 assists for the series.
Finally, the road ended for Atlanta against the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals. Young suffered an ankle injury in Game 3 that forced him to miss Games 4 and 5. Despite that, the Hawks still pushed the series to six games.
While the Hawks will not celebrate a championship parade in 2021, Young can be proud of the history he made individually, joining James among the all-time great playoff runs.
James’ Olympic career likely over
While James is resting and preparing for the 2021-22 season, 12 players will be heading to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics. James undoubtedly was offered a chance to compete, but there was a sense among the head decision-makers that James no longer has interest in competing in the Olympics.