Hawks

Hawks: Where does Trae Young rank among point guards?

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Bleacher Report recently broke down their list of the top 15 point guards in the NBA going into 2019-2020. Unsurprisingly, Hawks’ second-year point guard Trae Young cracked the list at #12, finishing in front of guys like Lou Williams, Malcolm Brogdon, and Eric Bledsoe and behind Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets. After only one year in the league that included a forgetful start, it’s a fair ranking, but I like to look forward, and if we’re talking about this upcoming season, Young should be even higher.

As a rookie, Young averaged 19.1 points and 8.1 assists. While that may line up with the 12th best point guard in the Association, they are unheard of for a rookie. I talked about this a lot last year, but it’s been a while, so let me remind the readers out there. Young averaged more points AND assists as a rookie than Magic Johnson, Chris Paul, and Steph Curry. It is one of the best resumés ever put together by a first-year point guard and was carried by a revealing second-half – also known as the Trae Young breakout party.

In the final 23 games of last season, Young posted a per game line of 24.7 points, 9.2 assists, and 4.7 rebounds, shooting 44.2% from the field and a hair shy of 35% from three – all of this in 33 minutes per game.

With all due respect to Jamal Murray, who I’m incredibly fond of and believe will also be climbing these ranks this season, Young’s passing puts him on another level. As scorers, they may be similar. But Young was second in the entire NBA in assists – as a rookie. The way he can incorporate his teammates is what makes him unique. He turned John Collins into an All-Star power forward overnight. People want to play with him – play for him. And he’s only going to become better in that area as he gets more acclimated in the NBA. Murray’s a rising star in his own right, but Young is going to produce a similar scoring output and double him in assists this season.

Tenth on the list was Kyle Lowry. I’m happy Lowry won a championship and showed up at times during their magnificent playoff run. Frankly, I’m not sure he could have mentally handled another Twitter slandering following another underwhelming postseason performance – but come on. Lowry averaged 14.2 points, and 8.7 assists on a worse shooting percentage than Young did last season. His PER was even less than Young’s. Lowry wasn’t on the same level as Young earlier this year, and he certainly will not be this season. His spot at #10 most likely has to do with the Raports conquering the NBA world. He can thank Kawhi for that too.

Once you get past Lowry, it’s challenging to say Young is better than the top nine on the list. Mike Conley – perhaps the most undervalued point guard in the league – sits at #9. At least from what we’ve seen thus far, Conley is a better point guard. At number eight is Chris Paul. He’s no longer a superstar, but that spot feels appropriate for him. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Young were to make the necessary steps to leapfrog both of them in his second season.

The seventh spot is occupied by a point guard that plays a different brand of basketball than Young but is at a similar point in his career. De’Aaron Fox averaged 17.3 points and 7.3 assists for the Kings last season, improving dramatically overall as a sophomore. His efficiency gives him a slight edge over Young for now, but if we see the same sort of adjustments in Young’s second year that we saw from Fox, this won’t be a competition.

The final six were Kemba Walker, Ben Simmons, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, and Steph Curry – all of whom are bonafide superstars. You can’t put Young in the same class as those guys yet, but I wouldn’t put joining those ranks by season’s end past him based on what we’ve seen from him since he was in high school. He was mocked for going to Oklahoma and laughed at for being drafted in the top five. He’s done pretty well for himself thus far.

If I were to put together a Top 15 list based on what we’ve seen going into this year, this is how it would go:

15. Malcolm Brogdon

14. Eric Bledsoe

13. Kyle Lowry

12. Lou Williams

11. Jamal Murray

10. Trae Young

9. Chris Paul

8. Mike Conley

7. De’Aaron Fox

6. Ben Simmons

5. Kemba Walker

4. Kyrie Irving

3. Russell Westbrook

2. Damian Lillard

1. Steph Curry

 

If I had to make it based on what I expect to see in 2019-2020:

15. Derrick White

14. Malcolm Brogdon

13. Kyle Lowry

12. Lou Williams

11. Chris Paul

10. Jamal Murray

9. Mike Conley

8. De’Aaron Fox

7. Trae Young

6. Ben Simmons

5. Kemba Walker

4. Kyrie Irving

3. Damian Lillard

2. Russell Westbrook

1. Steph Curry

 

Young will firmly supplant himself among the top ten, and I believe he could sniff the top five. Without a jump shot, I’m not sure how far Ben Simmons can go. Chris Paul is clearly on the decline. We’ve seen the best of Mike Conley. and Young could jump over De’Aaron Fox. This is no joke, Atlanta. The Hawks found their first superstar since Dominique Wilkins, and it’s about to become well-known in 2020.

Where would you rank Trae Young among point guards in the NBA?

 

 

 

 

 

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