The history of the NBA is filled with players whose careers were linked based on the fact that they were either in the same draft class or traded for one another. Some of our favorite rivalries can be traced back to draft day and this “linked-at-draft-day” storyline can follow guys all the way to the hall of fame. Insert Trae Young and Luka Doncic who were traded for each other on draft day by the Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks.
Young and Doncic will forever be linked because of their draft day trade. They will be bound by each others successes or failures because .. well that’s just what we do. Every single time Doncic makes a move that ends up on Sportscenter, “overreaction-twitter” fires off fresh hot takes about how Trae Young will never measure up to Doncic. The same rule applies with Trae Young, and it’s really a humorous novelty when you sit back and look at it.
What if I told you that the man Hawks fans should be comparing Trae Young to is not Luka Doncic, but rather a group of men that you probably aren’t aware of.
The Hawks went with Trae Young because they wanted to invest in the point guard position. Not saying that Doncic couldn’t run the point but he’s not a pure point guard. He’s more of a swingman that has the ability to play point guard. Currently he’s listed as a shooting guard for the Dallas Mavericks.
To look at this rationally you have to look at what the Hawks had and what they wanted. Dennis Schroder put up decent numbers on a terrible team and by no fault of his own, a lot (probably too much) was given to him to carry. Schroder was a decent point guard but when you are relying on him to carry the majority of your scoring load and be your #1 distributor, that’s not a good fit. The added offensive load resulted in some terrible defense. Out of all the Hawks players that played at least 50 games there was only one player who had a worst defensive win share rating.
It seems that for every good thing Schroder brought to the table there was something bad to equal things out. He would give you close to 20 points a game but his shot selection drove you nuts. He would give you 6 assist but turn the ball over at crucial parts in a game. For every ounce of maturity he showed, those off the court issues seemed to always be a part of his story. The $70 million that he signed for bothered a lot of Hawks fans but I didn’t have a problem with it because its not like his contract was keeping the Hawks from being a playoff team. The Hawks were only paying two guys, Schroder and Kent Bazemore. Schroder was a decent point guard but he wasn’t the guy the Hawks wanted leading their organization from a talent, maturity or financial standpoint.
This is what they moved on from, so insert Trae Young.
Young is the new face of the franchise and the Hawks are investing in him with the idea that he will eventually be an upgrade from the Dennis Schroeder era. (Please, don’t inbox me about Jeff Teague, those days are over too). Looking at strictly the point guard position, Young should be a better shooter, scorer and assist man off the top. The defensive concerns are legit but early on he has seemed to look fine. Furthermore if you look at Schroder’s defensive numbers last year it would make you cringe. Young will need to work on his shot selection but from day 1 the potential is there.
So the comparison that needs to be held is how does Trae Young compare to the other point guards in his draft class. Here are the guys you need to look at.
- Colin Sexton (Drafted 8th overall by Cleveland Cavaliers)
- Shai Alexander (Drafted 11th overall by Hornets, traded to the Clippers)
- Aaron Holiday (Drafted 23rd overall by the Pacers)
- Landry Shamet (Drafted 26th overall by the Sixers)
There are some other guys of note drafted in the 2nd round (Shake Milton, Jalen Brunson) but they don’t project to be NBA stars.
These are the guys Trae Young needs to be compared to, because by drafting him when the did the Hawks let everyone know that they think he is the best point guard in this draft. He needs to be clearly better than all of these other point guards from a scoring and a passing standpoint.
Expectations are sky high for Trae Young and we’re not naïve to think that the comparisons to Doncic won’t eventually become nauseating. For what it’s worth if you can say you grabbed the best point guard who is heads and shoulders better than all the other point guards that should count for something.