In this day and age the basketball media is quick to name a player the next big thing, after a few surprising performances. This made me very skeptical of the Trae Young hype that’s been building, over the past couple weeks. After watching Trae Young lead the Oklahoma Sooners to a comeback victory last Saturday at TCU, I am now a firm believer in Trae Young.
After a victory over a solid Oklahoma State team earlier in the week, the Sooners faced West Virginia on the road last night. Despite a valiant second half effort from Trae Young, the Sooners came up short in Morgantown. After the game many critics were quick to point out Trae’s first half struggles, or that he uncharacteristically turned the ball over 8 times. However, I would not read too much into this, especially given the physicality of West Virginia’s full court press. This would make the game especially difficult for Trae Young, given that he serves as OU’s primary scorer AND distributor, without much help in the back court. After shaking off a slow first half start Young went for 20 points and the second half, and looked like the player who is leading the NCAA in scoring and assists.
My favorite part of Trae Young’s game is that it translate to the highest levels, as he is able to dominate with skill as opposed to God given physical gifts. In spite of his below average stature and explosiveness, Trae Young appears extremely comfortable finishing in the paint over size and length. Add this to his crafty mid-range game (Young has an outstanding floater) and outside shooting, and you have an elite 3 level scorer. Trae Young also does a great job of changing speeds off the dribble, which will make it easier for him to get downhill against athletic NBA guards, in the near future. At this point it Young’s go-to move off the dribble appears to be an in and out into speed dribble, to get down hill.
A discussion of Trae Young would not be complete without addressing the incessant comparisons to Stephen Curry. Yes, there are obviously similarities between the two, with 3-point shooting and stature being the most obvious. That being said, I do believe the comparisons to Curry are not completely accurate. Comparing the two at the same age and it will quickly become obvious that at age 19, Trae Young is light years ahead of Steph Curry. Trae Young was a 5-star recruit and a McDonald’s All-American, that also played in the Jordan Brand Classic. Curry on the other hand was lightly recruited and as everyone knows ended up signing with Davidson.
On the court, Trae Young is also much more advanced than Steph Curry at the same age. Trae is already comfortable running a team and serving as the teams primary facilitator. This is a burden Steph Curry does not have to bare, as the Warriors tend to rely more on Draymond Green to be the primary decision maker. It should also be noted that Green has been leading the Warriors in assists over the past few seasons. Essentially the difference that I am trying to highlight is that Trae Young is much more of a pure point guard, and I see Steph Curry as more of a shooting guard that splits primary ball-handling duties.
Making an effective comparison for Trae Young is tough because he is so unique. I believe he shares similarities with Steve Nash, in how is able to effectively operate in the pick and roll and make his teammates better. Young also does a great job of changing speeds similar, to Steve Nash. Many people are quick to forget Steve Nash is a career 42.9% three-point shooter, and as we all know Trae Young can light it up from deep as well. With conference play just getting underway it will be exciting to see how much more Trae Young can accomplish, before shaking Adam Silver’s hand in late June.