If you get them in a room, most NBA players will acknowledge they have used some sort of doubt or subtle slight as motivation over the years. This is a technique that has manifested itself in a way that has propelled careers in the past, and this season is no different.
The usual stories often revolve around players taking the Michael Jordan approach to manufacturing disrespect, but plenty simply want to prove naysayers and, in some cases, themselves wrong. Whether it be showing that they are worthy of accolades or a certain status or overcoming the stigma of injuries, some players are able to harness the negative energy and flip it into success. Others fall victim to the pressure and inadvertently co-sign the criticism.
The 2023–24 season will see players fall on both sides of the spectrum. But the next seven players should be out to shut their mouths, starting with Trae Young.
NBA Star #7: Trae Young
When Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks made it to the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals after two breakout series, his entire trajectory was aimed at being one of the many faces of the league. Instead, what followed was one All-Star birth and a lot of questions.
Not only was there a continuation of the criticism of his shot selection, but Young was tagged with the label of being a suspected coach killer two times over. Which also came with reported friction with former Cornerstone teammates like John Collins.
Even the paring with backcourt mate Dejounte Murray came with a disappointing eighth-place finish, a first-round exit, and Young’s lowest regular season field goal, three-point shooting, and effective field goal percentages since his rookie year.
What followed for Young was being left off the 2023 USA World Cup roster and a summer of trade rumors. Although the point guard was not moved, this would be the year for him to aim for a narrative change, as the Hawks have shown that they are willing to move salary if they are not climbing the standings. And apparently, he is not off limits.