6’2″, 180 pounds
Wingspan: approx. 6’2″
September 19th, 1998
FPC NBA Draft Big Board Rank: 5 Overall, 2 Guard
Projection: Top 10
Trae Young was a five-star recruit out of Norman, Oklahoma and ESPN’s #15 ranked prospect in his class. Young committed to his hometown school and immediately led the Sooners as their feature point guard. Young lit up the nation during the season; he led the nation in points per game (27.4) and assists per game (8.7). He struggled a bit towards the end of the year but led his team to the NCAA Tournament. His team lost to Rhode Island in the round of 64 and Young subsequently declared for the draft.
Young is an elite shooter in every sense. His mechanics are compact, quick, and consistent. He consistently gets his shot off over bigger defenders. He has elite range and shoots very well on high volume (36% 10.3 AtPG). Young shoots well on the rare catch and shoot but shines off of the dribble. He has a great step back and doesn’t need much space to be considered “wide open”. Young’s ability to navigate the pick and roll is excellent, which is a vital skill for any modern day NBA point guard. He knows when to take the pick and when to reject it, when to shoot, when to drive and kick, when to put his defender in jail, and when to dump it off to the roller. He splits the pick and roll well and hits the roller on time and in stride.
Young’s vision is elite all around. He reads the floor well with his high basketball IQ, has a soft touch on lobs, and fits pocket passes around the defense. His vision pushing the ball in transition is also great. Young’s vision is creative; he has the ability to pass guys open. Young’s ball-handling ability is elite; his first step is lightning quick and he consistently beats defenders off of the dribble. Young is excellent on floaters and runners, with great touch and arc, making the shot virtually unblockable. He is equally adept at finishing left or right and finishes creatively with touch. Young is great at initiating contact and getting to the line.
Young’s slight frame is definitely a problem. His 6’2″, 180-pound frame and short wingspan will not help him with the physicality of the NBA. This, combined with a lack of general effort and technique, makes Young struggle mightily on defense. He is rarely in a stance on D, provides little resistance on drives, and struggles to stay in front of most guards. He often takes bad paths around screens and is a nightmare defending the pick and roll. His off ball defense isn’t horrible but it definitely is not a strength. Young’s frame has him struggle at the basket at times. He struggles to finish through length and contact; he, therefore, loses balance and forces bad shots at the rim. Strong, quick, and physical defenders give him trouble; West Virginia’s Jevon Carter made him look like an ordinary guard.
Young turns the ball over a lot (5.2 TOVpg) and often tries to force passes that aren’t there. Young neglects the simple pass, opting to make something out of nothing. He has a serious problem with his shot selection. Young often takes bad, deep threes early in the shot clock before any offensive set can develop. He has the ultimate green light; Young took any shot he wanted whenever he wanted. Young has the ultimate “answer” mentality. If someone hits a three or scores on Young, you can ber your house on Young coming back and hucking up a deep three no matter the circumstance.
Best NBA Fits
Orlando and Trae Young is a match made in heaven. The Magic are in a bit of a sticky situation. They don’t have a clear direction; they have some young talent in Jonathan Isaac and Aaron Gordon but are swamped by bad contracts. Last year, the Magic had the third worst three-point percentage in the NBA (35.1%) and the sixth-worst offensive rating (102.8). Their offense is overall disorganized, due in part to their lack of point guard talent. D.J. Augustin and Shelvin Mack running your offense aren’t going to cut it. Adding Trae Young boosts this offense’s potency greatly. He would likely have a heavy role on-ball in Orlando which Young is no stranger to. A core of Young, Gordon, and Isaac doesn’t sound that bad heading into the future.
The Cavaliers are in a position where retaining LeBron James is the number one priority. The ownership will do anything to make him happy and drafting Trae Young may do just that. Young not only will satisfy James, but he fits well on their roster. Outside of LeBron the Cavaliers seriously miss a secondary playmaker. Their second best option is Jordan Clarkson who is nothing more than a spark plug off of the bench. Tyronn Lue could stagger James and Young’s minutes, allowing Young to run the bench unit. His elite passing vision is gravely needed in Cleveland’s second unit. Young didn’t play much off-ball at all at Oklahoma but the thought of LeBron sitting on the elbow and Trae Young running off of screens will give opposing coaches nightmare. Heck, you could easily have young sit in the corner and shoot threes and attack closeouts if you want. Young puts the Cavaliers one step closer to the Warriors in the current state and gives you a great insurance plan if LeBron James does decide to leave.
New York Knicks
The Knicks just drafted a point guard last season in Frank Ntilikina but he has the size and length to play the two. The Knicks played Ntilikina a lot at the two last year due to the rebirth of Trey Burke. I am doubtful that Trey Burke will keep up his play and even if he does, he is on an expiring contract and will demand more than the Knicks may want to pay him. Ntilikinas immense defensive potential makes up for Young’s lack of defense and compliments him perfectly as an off-ball player. A pick and roll/pop duo of Young and Kristaps Porzingis could be nearly unstoppable if he is healthy.
Trae Young has garnered a reputation through the general media as being the biggest “boom or bust” prospect in this class. Whether it is his playstyle that draws comparisons to Stephen Curry, media outlets like ESPN severely overhyping him or his struggles in the new year, many fans have come to the conclusion that Trae Young is destined to bust. He does have some critical flaws such as his frame and his decision making but Curry makes a similar framework and decision making can be remedied. I believe that Young’s elite shooting, vision, and ball handling along with the fact that he is tailor-made for the modern NBA gives him a higher floor than many give him credit for. Some mock drafts have even seen him fall out of the top 10 which would make him a monumental steal for whichever team drafts him. Trae Young has All-NBA potential and will likely be a top-eight pick in this NBA draft
Ben Pfeifer is the Managing Editor of the Colts for Full Press Coverage, the AFC South Division Editor, and head NBA editor. Want to continue the discussion? Contact Ben Pfeifer on Twitter @Ben_Pfeifer_, @FPC_NBA and @FPC_Colts.
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