Hawks: Trae Young surprisingly falls eight spots in ESPN’s 25 best players under 25

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ESPN released their annual top 25 NBA players under 25 list — ordered by future potential — which saw Trae Young left out of the top ten, falling from eight last year to sixteen this year. The top ten was released in the following order:

To be clear, I don’t think player rankings really matter outside of All-NBA voting, as most of the time, it’s done for clicks and to generate debates in the replies. However, many fans who don’t follow the game closely rely on these rankings from “experts” to help them form an opinion on players they hardly watch.

Luka, Zion, Mitchell, Tatum, Simmons, Booker, and Adebayo definitely deserve to be on this list, and frankly, ESPN’s probably right to have them ranked ahead of Young (for now). I definitely question Ball’s status ahead of Young, considering he hasn’t even played a full season. Still, he was so impressive before the injury to his wrist that I can understand the case for his ranking.

This brings us to SGA and De’Aaron Fox. First off, these are both excellent young guards who will likely make multiple All-Star games when all is said and done, but to say that they have higher potential than Young — at this point in each of their respective careers — is extremely questionable. Compared to Fox, Young has posted a higher true shooting percentage (58.7 compared to 56.6) this season and ranks higher on many defensive metrics. Not to mention, Young’s passing ability is near the top of the league, as he’ll compete year in and year out for the assist title. While Fox is a gifted passer in his own right, he’s not quite on the elite level Young is at this time.

In Gilgeous-Alexander’s case, however, the true shooting stats and defensive metrics do indeed favor SGA. But when you look at FiveThirtyEight’s model, Trae Young projects to be four wins above replacement per season better than the OKC guard. Just like Fox, SGA is a terrific passer. However, he’s still not near the same level of an on-ball creator as Young, and even if he is a better defender, Young’s transcendent level creation is clearly appropriately valued in their model.

ESPN also had Young ranked behind Brandon IngramJaylen BrownJamal MurrayMichael Porter Jr., and Ja Morant. How Young went from eight on this list last year to sixteenth despite improving in all areas of his game and his team sitting in the playoff picture through fifty games is beyond me, but it is obvious that the insiders at ESPN do not feel that Young has done enough to stay within the top ten.

Again, the players on this list ahead of Young are ultra-talented, but there are not 15 players better than Young under 25 in the NBA today. While Young may not lose sleep over this, I’m sure we’ll get a subtweet or two in the coming days, especially if he has a noteworthy performance tonight.

John Collins also appeared on the list, coming in at number 22, up two spots from last season. While not surprising, the same goes for John Collins as does for Trae Young; it’s clear that many people who have an opinion on the Hawks don’t watch the Hawks.

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