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Steve Hummer: Hawks' Trae Young makes one old sportswriter rethink good and bad

Steve Hummer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Basketball

Having followed basketball since shortly after the first peach basket went up in Springfield, Mass., I thought I had a pretty clear idea of what constituted a bad shot.

It's like the old Supreme Court standard for obscenity -- you know it when you see it. And, indeed, what is a bad shot if not basketball porn?

It's a bad shot if the shooter is so far out that the ball has to clear customs before reaching the rim.

It's a bad shot if the person taking it is being guarded like Meghan Markle's privacy.

It's a bad shot if taken while driving to the basket against superior numbers of ill-tempered behemoths twice your size. If the only way to get off such a shot is to check your spine at the door, contort yourself impossibly and throw up your arms like they are no longer attached to your torso, it might be a bad one.

Then Trae Young stutter-stepped into town. And now none of those traditional standards mean anything anymore. Everything I thought I knew about the sanctity of the shot has been junked.

 

Was it a bad shot when, in the course of the Hawks' 122-117 loss to Toronto Monday, Young pulled up from 30 feet and barely grazed one off the front of the rim? No, no more so than when he did the same thing earlier in the same game and the shot fell purely through the net.

Was it a bad shot when he was fading away near the scorer's table -- so close he could have juggled the books if he was the nefarious type? No, because he somehow drew a foul from that distant frontier. Such a thing happens far more than it should, because opponents are so beguiled by Young's range.

Was it a bad shot in the game's last 99 seconds, Hawks trailing by 11, when he took one step back from the arc, pulled up with two Raptors running at him as he launched? No, that's called the last best chance at winning. (The shot went in. Oh, and he was fouled. Four-point play. He would score 10 points in a 43-second spurt near the end.)

Finally, was it a bad shot when near the close of the third quarter Young took one from the edge of the midcourt logo? OK, that might have been a bad shot. Although I wouldn't swear to it in court now, so much has my confidence been shaken by Young's guilt-free scoring.

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