TRAES WAY: THE EVOLUTION OF THE HAWKS SUPERSTAR POINT GUARD

Trae Young NBA sophmore superstar.

Trae Young the High School Recruit

When Trae Young was coming out of high school, he was a 5 star point guard rated as the 23rd best prospect and a McDonald’s All American. Normally, the 23rd best prospect is a talented player who is not necessarily seen as a one and done player but one that will spend at least a couple of years in college before heading to the pros. In most recruiting classes, this level of prospect could be interchangeable with most players in the top 50, and this player gets in because of the school they picked along with good grades or the right affiliations in AAU ball. Trae Young, at this point, had proven to be a great high school basketball player, but he was more known for being the teammate of Michael Porter Jr.: who at the time was the next rendition of Kevin Durant that all scouts went crazy over. It’s hard to project 6 foot guards with less than ideal physical attributes to the next levels of basketball. It is possible that these attributes are why most people didn’t see Trae Young coming. He had a solid, but unspectacular, game scoring 9 points and looking like the second tear All American behind guys like Colin Sexton and Jaylen Hands. Trae’s college choice wasn’t the traditional pick that most recruits make, but Oklahoma, which had recent success with developing 4 star recruits like Buddy Heild.

Trae Young Oklahoma

What Trae did when he got to Oklahoma, was nothing short of amazing. He captivated college basketball in a way that hadn’t been done since Steph Curry back in his junior year. Trae was shooting 3’s from almost half court and making defenses look silly. Everyone was caught off guard because the top freshman was supposed to be Michael Porter Jr., and he was hurt for most of the year so Trae was must-watch-TV with a game that made fans believe that the next Steph Curry was right in front of our eyes. He was putting up one of the most ridiculous scoring numbers for a freshman since Kevin Durant played at University of Texas. Teams where running defenses that you only see in AAU or high school basketball: when one team has a superior talent and the other team has no choice but to run a box and one. This is what Trae was for Oklahoma. Unfortunately, the Sooners did not have enough supporting cast to capitalize on his talent. Still, his team made the tournament, but they ended the year on a sour note losing multiple games and it looked like Trae’s physical limitations were starting to catch up with him. He looked as if the physicality of the NBA and better defenses would be able to contain him.

Trae Young’s Rookie Season

When Trae was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks, it was met with a bit of scrutiny because the Hawks traded the rights to Luka Doncic to get him. Luka is a generational talent in his own right who won rookie of the year last year. Early on, Trae seemed to have the same struggles in the NBA as he did in college. The start to his season looked much like the end of his college career. He would have a game here and there, where he would flash superstar potential and then the next game he would come back to earth wondering if he were more of the next Damon Stoudemire than the next Steph Curry. At the beginning of the season, it looked like Luka was the clear cut favorite for rookie of the year and the Hawks might have made the mistake of trading him for a guard who wouldn’t be able to overcome his physical limitations to reach superstar status in the NBA. By the end of the year, it seemed like he started figuring things out and his bad games seemed fewer and far between. Even though Luka won the rookie of the year, Trae made it a competition by the end of the year: making the Hawks look like they knew what they where doing by trading for him and building their rendition of the Golden State Warriors.

Trae Young Now

Trae has started this season off with a bang. Two games into the season, he has averaged 38.5 points a game on 58 percent shooting to include 9 assists and 7 rebounds a game. It is unlikely that these numbers will continue throughout the whole season, but it is a sign that he has started to figure out his inefficiency problems and his shot is falling from deep like it did when he was setting college basketball on fire. His ability to shoot so accurately from deep opens up the game for everyone else. He might not be ready to put up 30 plus a game in his second season in the game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was able to put up 25 points a game in his second season. If you look back on superstars like Kevin Durant and Lebron James, they went from 20 points a game rookie scorers to above 25 points a game scorers in their sophomore year. I am not willing to put Trae Young in Lebron or Durant conversation, but I think with his role on the team and his scoring prowess he could put up big numbers. Most importantly, his recent outburst has resulted in wins for his team. Both wins have been over last year’s playoff teams in the Detroit Pistons and the Orlando Magic. This year the east is wide open and his play could likely lead them to a playoff run. The Hawks have been adamant about building their team in the image of the Warriors with Trae being their Steph. You can tell this year they have put more talent on the bench to help the team keep leads and they will not be happy missing the playoffs again.

Trae Young the Future

The future for Trae Young is bright. Most compare him to Steph Curry but in a few years that might not be doing Trae Young justice. Trae is in his second season in the NBA, but if he would have stayed in college this would be his junior season. Still at his young age, he is putting up numbers that Steph Curry didn’t reach until his 4th and 5th years in the league. Barring injuries, we could see Trae take the game to new heights with his shooting. Combine that with the Hawks surrounding him with shooters, and this team could be down right dangerous. Ultimately, for him to justify the comparisons to Curry or become better, he will have to win championships but the way the Hawks are building this could be a reality. What gives him an advantage over a younger Curry is that not only is he an outstanding shooter, but he is also one of the best passers in the game. It wouldn’t be surprising if in a few years Trae Young is a 25 plus scorer with 10 assists. His passing will make it impossible for teams to double and triple team him like they did in college early on in his career. Trae has already shown he can score with the best of them, so his next evolution as a player is showing that he can translate his scoring to wins.

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Jared

I am an avid football and basketball fan following the two sports for the last 25 years.

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