The Case for Trae Young, #1

The not-so-best-kept-secret is out and you can thank the Big City Bias for keeping it under wraps for so long.  Trae Young is THE most tantalizing player in the draft.  Close calls to Mo Bamba and Luka Doncic, but here’s some information on Young for you.

Besides the fact that Kenpom.com has him as the top rated player in NCAA so far this year; Young passes everything (NCAA leader in assists as of 12/30) but the look test.  But as the NBA has shown recently, that may not matter as much.

Trae Young KP

These are some staggering numbers!  Young has made 50 of his 121 3PT attempts so far, and for those worried about the NBA distance being different…

Trae Young 3PT 1

This is where Young will shoot from if you aren’t guarding him closely.  This deep make barely touched the net as it passed through.

One of the great things about KenPom is the comparison to similar seasons each particular player is enjoying.  This is statistically driven, so there is no bias in it.  It does not matter if you like Young or not, his season so far is on par with Kyrie Irving (2011), D’Angelo Russell (2015), and Dennis Smith Jr. (2017).  That’s pretty good company.

To us, what separates Young from that elite group is his ability to generate points for his teammates.  Similar to Lonzo Ball last year, Young is always looking to get his teammates easy buckets.  If someone is open near the hoop, he’ll find him.  The opening play against TCU is a good example as Young threw a lob that nobody realized was possible.

Trae Young has an outrageously high %Poss, tops in the nation so far, but he is not a ball hog.  He is also the leader in ARate (58.4) and the only other freshman that are within range of Young are Howard’s RJ Cole (40.3) and Quinnipiac’s Rich Kelly (39.9).  Not to take away anything from those other young hoopers, but Trae Young is putting these numbers up in the Big 12.

Young has dominated nearly every game he’s played in.  He took away the distinction of Northwestern and Northwestern State, Oklahoma beat them by a combined score of 209-146 and he was responsible for nearly 130 of those 209 points.  It’s simply outrageous.

Young is flying up everyone’s big board, so let’s take a closer look at who may be selecting him:

Atlanta-The Hawks have Schroder, but the mercurial point guard was not selected by the current GM, Travis Schlenk.  So there is less incentive to hold on.  If they determine to keep Budenholzer, Young fits really well with Bazemore, Bembry, Prince and Collins as a modern NBA team.  A point guard who demands attention opens up the floor for slashers/cutters/rollers…this would be a fun team to watch.

Dallas-Dennis Smith Jr. was drafted last year, so it’s a little bit of a stretch here.  The need to find a Dirk replacement (good luck) is looming over the decision makers.  Those are cases against Young ending up in Dallas.  However, recent success with smaller guard lineups is a trend that we assume Mark Cuban is keeping his eye on.  Wall/Beal, Irving/Smart, Rondo/Holiday…okay, okay, we know those are reaches but you get the point.  When has a member of the Tres Comas club ever been afraid to take a risk when there is tremendous…wait for it…UPSIDE!

Orlando-This could be Young’s floor, wherever Orlando falls.  Elfrid Payton is being shopped around.  As is everyone not named Aaron Gordon or Jonathan Isaac.  New regime, new phone, nobody is safe.  Some would say that Payton has been a disappointment and the main reason why the Magic haven’t progressed.  Having a new coach every year has helped as much as his overgrown hair cut, but given the chance to upgrade that spot, we’d bet the Magic do it.  Young’s wizardry in transition enhances Gordon.  His shot creation takes any burden off Isaac.  This one is a no-brainer.

We’ll see where he ends up, but we would not be shocked if he’s the first name called by Adam Silver in June.

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