Hawks

Evaluating Trae Young’s Utah Summer League Performance

Young had his fair share of doubters before he was ever even drafted. Those numbers only multiplied when he was selected #5 overall and have grown exponentially since Young made his professional debut at Utah’s Summer League.

The college standout shot an abysmal 12-52 from the floor (23.1%) while averaging just 12.7 points over the three games in Utah. Young’s shot was erratic from the start in each of his three games. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Young began each game at least 0-5 from the field.

Young has the type of the game that can look smooth as silk or like a chicken with his head cut off. Unfortunately, it has been more of the latter as a Hawk, which is going to have his critics questioning whether his game can translate at the NBA level.

It is easy to criticize performances like this, but the first three games of Summer League have never been the best place to pinpoint whether a player is going to be a star or a bust. What Young did show in Utah is that he is a 19-year old kid with no fear. From the opening tip, Young was looking for what he does best, to shoot. The shots were not falling, but for the most part he was able to create enough space for him to get off a shot he would normally make. These were the shots he was hitting before he started seeing double and triple teams at Oklahoma.

The shot is the one thing that does not worry me about Young. From high school to college, Young has proven to be a prolific scorer with unlimited range. Eventually these shots are going to start turning into makes at a much higher rate.

What I was more interested in is if Young would he be overmatched defensively, how he could finish or draw contact around larger defenders, his turnover rate, and if he could effectively create space in one-on-one matchups. None of those areas may be Young’s biggest strength, but his ceiling will depend on him not being deficient in one or multiple of these categories.

Defense is never going to be Young’s forte, but he never looked to be a liability in summer league. Step one complete, but his competition is not exactly Russell Westbrook yet. We will not be able to really judge Young defensively until the regular season.

What we did see on a much more frequent occurrence than a made jump shot was Young finishing around the basket or drawing contact. If Young can continue to improve as a finisher around the rim, his ceiling as an offensive prospect skyrockets.

As a playmaker, Young made some quality passes for assists and totaled thirteen of them (4.3 per game). However, he was also erratic at times for periods of each game and ended summer league with eleven turnovers. His decision making has to be better on both his shot selection and with his passing. In summer league though, there has to be some appreciation for his aggressiveness.

That aggressiveness was shown on the floor in game three when Young and former Duke star Grayson Allen got tangled up in the third quarter. Both players received technical fouls. Of course, Allen had a reputation for dirty incidents at Duke, but this was not one of those. Just a case of two rookies competing hard.

Young fared well when matched up one-on-one. He was able to get in the paint when he wanted, create space for his shot off the dribble and made a majority of good decisions in the pick and roll. You would not know it by his shooting percentage, but he had tons of open shots just could not get anything to fall.

Atlanta is currently shopping last year’s starting point guard Dennis Schroder, hoping Young can become the floor general of the future. Schroder has made it know he would like to be elsewhere as well. But between Schroder’s cold market and Young’s shaky Summer League play, the Hawks might find it better to groom Young behind Schroder for at least a year. Schroder’s value is at a low point and a terrible season as a rookie starter could ruin Young’s development.

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