This offseason saw Trae Young sign a five-year max-contract extension, which will pay him $207 million in total if he makes an All-NBA team this season. He exploded onto the national scene during the 2021 playoffs, where he averaged just under 30 points and 10 assists per game. He came, he saw, he conquered. Young stole every headline and became public enemy #1 in each city leading up to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Everyone has praised him as he’s quickly becoming one of the most tantalizing stars in the Association. Nate McMillan was the most recent appreciator of Young, touting in a recent interview that he will “win big.”
“In just under a minute, McMillan praised Young in about every way possible. He started by recognizing what he can do with his skill on the court — stretch defenses with his shooting, scoring at all three levels, getting to the free-throw line, and playmaking as well as anybody else in the game. However, McMillan continues by acknowledging his maturity and fearlessness, which we saw over the second half of the season and into the playoffs.”
Vegas oddsmakers are even taking notice, evident in the early odds for the 2022 NBA MVP. In what might be a bit surprising to the rest of the NBA world and not so much Atlanta, Ice Trae has equal odds (+1800) with Devin Booker to win the MVP award. Those odds are better than James Harden, Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell, and many other 2021 NBA All-Stars.
It might be difficult for some to put him in the upper-echelon of NBA players, but the Association and its fans will quickly realize that Trae Young is the future of basketball. He’s one of the most marketable up-and-coming stars the NBA has to offer, and if you don’t believe me, check out this stat. Ice Trae is tied with LeBron James for the third-most 40-point games through a player’s first three seasons (16).
Young’s company on the list are some of the best players the game has ever seen — Michael Jordan (44), Shaquille O’Neal (19), Trae Young (16), LeBron James (16), and Kevin Durant (12) round out the top five most 40-point games in their first three seasons. To put some context in these numbers: MJ played three years at UNC; Trae, Shaq, and KD played one year of collegiate basketball, and Lebron didn’t play any at all.
Yes, Jordan’s numbers are ridiculous, but MJ was a much more refined player — both physically and mentally — when he was drafted while the others were still kids that were maturing. Trae Young is still maturing, and he’s one of the best players in basketball. These statistics continually reinforce how historic his run in Atlanta will be when it’s all said and done.