Team sports can sometimes be unfair on individual players. More than their personal stats, players are judged by their team's collective performance at the end of the day.
It has been observed in the past that elite talents often land in rebuilding franchises through the draft process, and end up grinding multiple years in the same uniform. Or sometimes, a trade bargain throws them off into an unsettling scenario, where it becomes tedious for them to carry the team on their own.
Of the 16 teams in each conference, only 8 manage to bag a postseason berth every year. As far as the status quo in the Eastern Conference is concerned, teams that are unlikely to make it to the playoffs this season are Washington Wizards, Chicago Bulls, Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers.
In this piece, we look at five quality individual talents that deserved to make a playoff appearance - and would have, had it not been for their team's shortcomings.
#1 Trae Young - Atlanta Hawks
Trae Young's offensive prowess soared throughout his sophomore year, resulting in him averaging almost 30 ppg (second-highest in the league at one point). His scoring barrage got him an All-Star starter spot from the Eastern Conference in just his second year in the league.
Despite the Atlanta Hawks' disappointing show all year long, Trae's individual numbers have been eye-popping. The 21-year-old is currently averaging 29.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 9.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game, while shooting 38% from beyond the arc.
Playing over 35 minutes per contest, Young has taken over the reins of the lowly Hawks franchise this year and is giving his everything on the floor. While his team's 17-42 (0.288) record might raise some eyebrows over his ability to lead, the youngster is doing all he can at such an early stage of his career to make things work.