It looked for a little while like the Hawks may have found their point guard of the future when they traded away Jeff Teague allowing Dennis Schroder to take over the reigns as the starter. Schroder has shown flashes of brilliance since taking over that role and was the Hawks most reliable offensive option last season. However, his lack of overall progression, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, as well as recent rumors of him wanting out of Atlanta, create a cloudy picture for Schroder’s future with the team.
That makes Trae Young a viable option in this year’s draft. Young, who is the most polarizing player in the entire draft, is coming off one of the most spectacular years in college basketball history, leading the nation in both scoring and assists as a freshman. However, his size and lack of athleticism will leave many questioning whether that type of production can translate to the NBA.
There is one thing you cannot dispute about Young, and that is his shooting ability. Young has unlimited range and is a threat to shoot once he passes the half-court line. What might be even more impressive than his range, though, his quick release. That is an area in which he and Steph Curry, who Young is often compared to, are eerily similar. And as we have seen with Steph Curry, that release makes things tough on defenders at any level.
Young’s offensive abilities extend much further beyond his shot. He is a terrific all-around scorer with extremely smooth handles, making him an impossible guard for bigger defenders. When opponents deny him from shooting threes, he can get in the lane and finish with either a fancy spinning layup or a nice floater. This guy has been a ridiculous scorer going back to his high-school days when he averaged 42.6 points per game. It would be foolish to think he will not have any success scoring the ball at the NBA-level, no matter how big he is.
What makes Young an even more intriguing prospect is his passing ability. He not only led the NCAA in assists with lackluster talent around him, he even tied an NCAA-record for assists in a game with 22. Both are pretty remarkable feats for a freshman. His combination of dribbling skills, passing and shooting ability will make him a potent offensive threat in the NBA. That’s right, Trae Young is not the next Jimmer Freddette.
Where Young will have to improve is on the defensive side. This is where his lack of size and athleticism is shown the most. He was often taken advantage of defensively while at Oklahoma, and that will be the case early in his NBA career as well. Turnovers are another area where Young will look to improve. He led the nation with 5.2 turnovers per game last season.
With that being said, Young is still just a 19-year old kid. He has plenty of time to put on some weight, much like Curry did in his early NBA years. He will not become a defensive-stopper by any means, but his dedication to the game was evident at Oklahoma. I expect him to get much stronger, and become at the very least a serviceable defender. His turnover rate can also be attributed to his ridiculous 37% usage rate with the Sooners. Simply put, if you put better talent around him, that number is going to come down.
It is hard to say any player is going to become the next Steph Curry, so I am not going to do that here. But what I am willing to say about Young, he will not be a total bust in the NBA. What he did last year in college was unheard of, and he did it all as a freshman. His skill level is miles ahead of many of the players that will get drafted ahead of him, but size will still hold him back a bit. He will have a nice NBA career with the potential to become an All-Star.