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Improved communication will be key to Hawks’ success in 2022-23 season

Atlanta wants to improve communication with coach Nate McMillan and star guard Trae Young in the 2022-23 season.

Atlanta — The Atlanta Hawks are heading to training camp for a little reboot.

The first is to improve communication between coach Nate McMillan and star guard Trae Young.

McMillan has already got the ball rolling after the Hawks’ first-round playoff elimination, and it’s been a bitter loss away from advancing to the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals.

In June, the coach jumped on a plane to visit Young at his home in Oklahoma City, wanting to make sure everyone was on the same page when camp started on Saturday.

“One of the big areas we feel we need to improve is the connection between the two of us,” McMillan said. “I think we need to communicate better with each other about what we want to do and how we want to do it.”

Coaches also want Young, who turned 24 less than a week ago, to claim more leadership roles both on the court and in the locker room.

“He’s the face of the franchise and his legacy,” McMillan said. “He’s going to have to work on it and get better.”

Young has dismissed any attempt to suggest a rift between the coach and his biggest star.

“I think you’re trying to get something that isn’t there. The relationship isn’t rocky,” Young said. “We can all be better in some areas. We’re all trying to get better. We’re not trying to stay the same.”

There was a lot of speculation that the Hawks were headed for a major overhaul after the playoff flop, but they decided to keep much of their roster intact.

The big move was a trade from the San Antonio Spurs for All-Star guard Dejounte Murray for three first-round draft picks.

Murray will provide the Hawks with another ball-handling guard who can play points, giving Young the opportunity to do more work off the ball.

That’s the element McMillan hopes to develop after seeing the Miami Heat overwhelm Young in the playoffs, giving the Hawks little other option to roll their offense.

Murray should also help improve his abysmal defense, which was perhaps the most important factor in the team’s failure to meet expectations. Was a second team member of the All-Defensive team.

While everyone was smiling during the photo ops and interview sessions, Young, who is the second-most league-leading player in NBA history in both total points and total assists, told Murray to take on the playmaking role. It will be interesting to see how it adapts. .

McMillan said the team was in constant communication with Young as the trade unfolded.

“As I told him, ‘We’re bringing in another guard and an All-Star guard. “He played off-the-ball, learned to play off-the-ball and was really excited about the opportunity to play with Murray.”

Murray hopes it will be a productive relationship, but it may take time to really click.

“I’m not trying to step on my toes,” he said. “They are doing great here. Trey has earned the rights to be who he is in this organization. Come help.”

McMillan hopes the entire team will regain some of the camaraderie that was evident in the unexpected playoffs two seasons ago.

To that end, the Hawks are making an extended trip to Abu Dhabi and will play two preseason games against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Atlanta leaves next Friday, spending nine days in the Middle East before returning to the United States for the final two preseason contests.

“It’s a great opportunity for the players to bond.” McMillan said, “I want the players to spend that time together.”

It should also give Young an opportunity to start flexing his leadership qualities.

“I have always been an exemplary leader,” he said. “I’m still learning how to be a leader with my voice. It’s not that I don’t do it. It’s just how I can get better. I think that’s what Nate is talking about.”

“Our relationship is great,” added Young. “My teammates love me and I love my teammates. Now we’re trying to win this championship.”

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