Hawks: Trae Young and Cam Reddish or Luka Dončić?

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The 2018 NBA draft will forever be associated with the trade that sent the Atlanta Hawks‘ first-round pick, Luka Doncic, to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for their first-round pick, Trae Young, and an additional first-round selection.

  • Mavericks receive: Luka Doncic (No. 3 overall selection in 2018 NBA Draft)
  • Hawks receive: Trae Young (No. 5 overall selection in 2018 NBA Draft); Protected 2019 first-round pick

That protected first-round pick turned into Cam Reddish when the Hawks selected him with the tenth overall pick. Even though Trae and Luka are entering their third season and Cam is only entering his second, we can still debate which team benefited more. Obviously, these three players are quickly ascending to stardom (Trae and Luka more so), so this Young and Reddish versus Dončić should be revisited annually.

First, we will compare the two superstars then see if Cam Reddish has shown enough to swing the trade towards the Hawks. Luka and Trae are two heavyweights, who will likely need an entire career to effectively determine which was the better selection. But we can have fun and take it year by year.

Luka assimilated much quicker to the NBA than his counterpart, probably due to the fact that he had been dominating professionals in Europe prior to being drafted. He averaged 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game to claim Rookie of the Year honors in 2019. Trae Young started slower and rightfully so. A rookie point guard on an otherwise bad roster, Young struggled with turnovers and inconsistent shooting early. But Trae finished strong his rookie campaign strong and that momentum carried over into his second season.

Young put everyone on notice his sophomore season, averaging 29.6 points and 9.3 assists per game while shooting 36.1 percent from beyond the arc on 9.5 attempts per game. But Luka again received national recognition yet again, he was named first-team All-NBA, 28.8/9.4/8.8 in just his second season. The ability to rebound allows for Luka to roll out of bed and post a triple-double.

But Trae is far and away better at both passing and shooting. Over their short careers, Trae is averaging 23.7 points per game, 8.6 assists per game, and 4 rebounds per game. Luka, at the same time, has averaged 24.8 points per game, 7.3 assists per game, and 8.6 rebounds per game. The shooting percentages don’t lie. Trae’s .428/ .342/ .849 compared to Luka’s .446/ .316/ .739 is close but give the edge to Young.

With both Trae and Luka performing exceptionally, we look to the deciding factor of Cam Reddish. Cam is averaging 10.4 points per game (10.5 in his career), 4.5 rebounds per game (3.8 in his career), and 1.1 steals per game (1.1 in his career) this season. His shooting percentages are what’s concerning; 34.6% field goal percentage, 28.6% three-point percentage, and 81% free throw percentage.

The only positive from his shooting is his reliable free throws. 81% will make any coach happy. His strongest trait is his length on the defensive end. Reddish is a real threat on and off-ball defensively. He has 71 steals since entering the league, which is second among all rookies over that time. It is no surprise Reddish is making an immediate impact on the defensive end, his reach is otherworldly. His shot will develop over time, and I think he will be a valuable wing player in the future — especially with a defensive liability like Young.

They are two stars, and now both have playoff-worthy rosters surrounding them. How this season plays out will be more evident of who came out on top of this trade. Reddish might even be too young to make a difference in how to grade this trade. All three players should be evaluated at the end of the season. Let’s just sit back and enjoy the next generation of NBA work.

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