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February 15, 2019

Trae Young

Charlotte, North Carolina

Q. What's your favorite video game and favorite sneaker?
TRAE YOUNG: My favorite video game is 2K. I like FIFA a little bit. My little brother loves FIFA. And favorite sneaker, probably some Yeezies.

Q. And your favorite emoji?
TRAE YOUNG: I like the little snowflake, the ice.

Q. This weekend is all about showcasing your skills, and people expect to see a show. What can they expect, half-court shots from you or something like this? We're living in this era of shots that come from way beyond the arc.
TRAE YOUNG: Yeah, maybe. You can definitely expect there to be a few deep shots. Not too many, though. They're fun. You've got to keep going. I think you can definitely bet that there's going to be some half-court shots, some deep shots tonight. Just trying to put on a show for the fans.

Q. You come in the generation of players that saw these three-point shooters developing as franchise players, like Steph Curry. Do you think this is the future of the NBA?
TRAE YOUNG: I think it definitely is. I think guys like -- I mean, Steph has changed the game where now you see a lot of teams going to more either shooting threes or getting layups. Golden State is a really good example of that, and they're winning championships. It's a copycat league, so teams are definitely trying to get there and try to copy the best.

Right now, Golden State is at that level. So just trying to get more shooters around you and things like that. I think that's definitely where the game is heading.

Q. On his growth as a player:
TRAE YOUNG: I think just the poise and the patience I have playing, I think that's the biggest growth that I've had this year. From Game 1 -- even from summer league until now, I think I'm just getting more comfortable, and the game is starting to slow down for me. I think at the beginning of the season, it was just a new transition. Any transition is going to be different. So adjusting in that little time period. The first month was terrible, but I think just from then on I've been able to adjust and it's been a lot better for me.

Q. On Shai Gilgeous-Alexander:
TRAE YOUNG: Shai is a really good player. I've known about him since college at Kentucky. Everybody talks about his defense, but I think he's just so smart. He's a cerebral player, really knows where his teammates are and really knows how to run the offense. But also he's good on both ends. He's a really good player.

Q. Because of the trade, do you feel more connected to Luka or more of a rivalry or anything else in that regard?
TRAE YOUNG: I feel like there's definitely a connection just because of the trade, but for me I look at it -- I don't look at it any differently than I do any opponent. Luka is playing really well this year. Everybody is seeing it. I mean, I'm happy for him. He's doing really well, and he's making our class look even better. We have really good players in this class -- Deandre [Ayton], Marvin [Bagley III], Jaren [Jackson Jr.]. Everybody is playing really well.

Q. I know he likes watching you play. I assume you like watching him play?
TRAE YOUNG: For sure. I love watching him play. He's a very smart player. He can really score the ball. I think there are a lot of similarities in our game as far as playing style. He's definitely a little bit taller than me, but besides that, there are a lot of similarities with our cerebral ability and things like that.

Q. On the Hawks:
TRAE YOUNG: I definitely feel excited about our team and this organization and where we're headed. You can tell, if you go to our practice, if you're a fly on the wall in our locker room, you can definitely feel the energy and the excitement in all of our guys, and I think that's the main thing.

For us being a young team, I think that's the most exciting thing and the best thing about us is that we're excited about the future. I'm just happy to be a part of this team. I know a lot of my guys and my teammates are too.

Q. Do you have predictions for this season's MVP?
TRAE YOUNG: Right now, I think it's a three-man race. I mean, Paul [George], James [Harden] and Giannis [Antetokounmpo]. I've played against Giannis three or four times now, and I see why he's the MVP candidate. Paul is great on both ends. I haven't played against James yet, but he's obviously on a historic path. He's doing what he's doing. So I think you can flip a coin on all three of them right now.

Q. Have you ever any sort of welcome-to-the-NBA moment? Was there a player, veteran or some guy where that was your moment in the league and you realized you were here?
TRAE YOUNG: Yeah, I think, really just my welcome-to-the-NBA moment is probably whenever we were in L.A., we played the Lakers, and it was at Staples Center. I had a chance to hit a game-winner. Being in that moment, being in that arena, playing against the Lakers, I think that was probably my welcome-to-the-NBA moment, having a chance to hit a game-winner. Even though we didn't win, I think that was probably my favorite thing.

Q. Best defender you've been up against?
TRAE YOUNG: Best defender? I've been up against really a lot of the best defenders. I think Klay [Thompson] is a really good defender. There are a lot of good defenders. Avery Bradley, Patrick Beverley, Kawhi [Leonard]. Everybody knows how good they are on the defensive end. Those are some of the guys that pop in my head.

Q. I know you've got a fear of birds.
TRAE YOUNG: Yeah, fear of birds.

Q. I know you've never heard that before, but I've got to ask, have you met Larry Bird?
TRAE YOUNG: No, I've never met Larry Bird before. I never have. I'm definitely a big fan of his game, for sure.

Q. If Larry Bird walked into a room, would that scare you?
TRAE YOUNG: No, no, no. If he walked into a room, I'm not going to be scared of Larry Bird, for sure.

Q. What has surprised you about the NBA?
TRAE YOUNG: I know one thing that has surprised me about the league is really just you hear people when you're coming into the draft and things like that about the back-to-backs and the long traveling and taking care of your body. I'm 20 years old. I'm thinking I'll be able to handle it with no problem. I think really just actually going through it and feeling what it's like and having to go through the back-to-backs and the long travel, that really surprised me on how I really felt.

Q. What did you expect?
TRAE YOUNG: I expected the tough battle at my position, the point guard position. I remember coming into the draft and even watching last year all the point guards on how good they are and things like that. Just talking about how good each night will be. They're all different. They're all good in different types of ways. So I think that's probably the one thing I expected.

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