By Nicholas Williams
Published: March 13th, 2019
The point guard position is the most difficult position to play in basketball. The point guard must be an on-court leader, playmaker, and someone that makes their teammates better. For a young point guard coming out of college, it takes time to adjust to the NBA game.
Atlanta Hawks rookie point guard, Trae Young, was off to a rough start at the beginning of the season, having numerous low point performances, low shooting percentage games and losing plenty of games. Young was quickly labeled a “bust” as the player he was traded for in the draft, Luka Dončić, was already putting the league on notice with his efficient play and helping the Mavericks win games.
The Atlanta Hawks were not built to compete this season. The roster still needs more talent to be able to compete. For Young’s success to happen, it wasn’t going to come right out of the gate but gaining experience in games to play up to standards, given the limited talent on the roster.
Every point guard struggles and needs time to get better, for example, D’Angelo Russell, Kyle Lowry, Mike Conley, Stephen Curry, Goran Dragić, Steve Nash, all these players went through a drought in their careers but was able to improve and get better with time.
Trae Young needed time!
Luka Dončić was blessed with playing in a system with a championship coach in Rick Carlisle and having pieces around him to succeed, Young had none of that.
In a quadruple overtime game against the Chicago Bulls on March 1st, Trae Young dropped a career-high 49 points. This was one of the more remarkable games Young has had this season.
For the month of February, Young averaged 23.3 points and 9.3 assists on 41 percent shooting from the field and 43 percent shooting from three-point territory. He put up seven double-doubles in points and assists in that month alone. Young is getting more and more confident with his game and is looking like a future star in the league.
“That was a fun game to play, probably one of the most fun games I’ve played in my career,” Young said after the game against the Chicago Bulls. “I’m proud of the way we fought. We came up short but I love the way we fought.”
Young recently recorded his first triple-double in a game against the Brooklyn Nets pushing more of his case for Rookie of the Year.
Young is a great scorer, his ability to shoot from anywhere makes the defense collapse on him even if he’s having a cold night. Similar to guarding Stephen Curry, the defense picks up on him at half court, he spaces the floor well and with this ability, it gives room for him to put up double-digit assist games. Young is already a great playmaker and it doesn’t matter if you lack other NBA skills, playmaking goes a long way and is valuable for any team.
Young has drawn comparisons to Stephen Curry, but his play is more similar to that of Phoenix Suns legend Steve Nash. Ironically, Steve Nash is a player that Young idolized growing up. Young is only 20 years old and will continue to get better as the years go on. He is averaging close to 20 points and eight assists on the season with a field goal percentage of 41 percent, three-point percentage of 33 percent and free throw percentage of 81 percent.
Young was the right pick for the Atlanta Hawks and Luka Dončić was the right pick for the Dallas Mavericks. They are both the top rookies of this draft class and will be future all-stars in the NBA.
The Luka-Trae battle will be fought for years and years. Two players who were drafted for each other on draft night is a story many NBA fans will be following beyond this season. Maybe one day they will compete at the highest level in the NBA Finals.