Rising Hawks star Trae Young is headed for Chicago later this month, making him the first Hawks player to appear as a starter for the All-Star Game since 1998. He will also appear in the 3-Point Contest the day before on Saturday, Feb. 15.
Reaching the international stage at 21-years-old is a career accomplishment for Young, but participating in the mid-winter event also provides exposure for the Hawks and an opportunity for ownership to improve the team's quality, said Steven Salaga, an assistant professor in the UGA Mary Frances Early College of Education's department of kinesiology.
"This is like a short-term, feel good story for the Hawks," said Salaga, who was quoted on Young's All-Star selection in the Atlanta Business Chronicle. "[Trae] is a high-quality player, but the team has underperformed relative to expectations and that's the problematic thing from an ownership perspective in terms of driving revenue… If they want to improve team quality, they can figure out ways to spend more money to get higher quality players."
According to the article, the Hawks have one of the worst records in the NBA despite Young's success as an early standout. However, placing a spotlight on him helps attract younger fans, which may lead to a boost in ticket sales and merchandise, including jerseys, headwear, T-shirts and more.
The Hawks are projected to have over $70 million in salary cap space this summer to sign free agents. If the team can acquire notable players and become playoff contenders in the future, Young's achievements and appearance at All-Star weekend could be the start of a major catalyst to success for the Hawks.
Related links: Department of Kinesiology