Four For Trae: The Four Teams That Could Pick Trae Young in the Draft
The cat is out of the bag. Trae Young has declared his eligibility for the 2018 NBA Draft.
Young’s magical freshman season at Oklahoma has drawn comparisons to Stephen Curry and has placed him among the top lottery prospects in the upcoming NBA Draft. The 6-2 guard led the nation in scoring at 27.4 points per game and assists 8.7 dimes per contest. He wa named as the Big 12 Freshman of the Year after shattering the Big 12 record for most points scored by a freshman ( 811 points ), passing the likes of Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley. Young also tied the NCAA assists record with 22 assists in one game, sharing the record with Avery Johnson, Sherman Douglas and Tony Fairley.
Yet despite these impressive credentials, Young isn’t expected to be picked in the Top 5 because of his size ( or the lack of it ). Instead, bigger and more athletic prospects like Deandre Ayton, Luka Doncic, Marvin Bagley III and Michael Porter Jr. are expected to be the main targets of lottery teams. Still, Trae Young is expected to be taken somewhere between 7-10 in the draft, as many mock drafts say.
Having said that, here are some of the lottery teams that will likely pick Trae Young if they pick outside the Top 5 of the draft:
Orlando’s team name is exactly what Trae Young turned out to be for the Oklahoma Sooners - Magic.
Young came out of nowhere to capture the nation with his incredible shooting and impeccable playmaking ability. Young led the nation in both scoring and assists while taking an former 11 win team to the NCAA tournament. Sure, they struggled late in the season and sure, they got knocked out in Round 1 of the tournament but still, Oklahoma’s story this year is worth remembering.
As for Trae Young, the Magic would perhaps be the most ideal fit among the teams with the NBA’s Top 10 worst records. The Magic traded starting point guard Elfrid Payton to the Phoenix Suns at the trade deadline for a 2nd round pick. Such move indicated that Orlando had moved on from Payton and they believe he isn’t the point guard of the future.
Since Payton’s departure, the Magic have turned to veterans D.J. Augustin and Shelvin Mack to run their point guard chores. Make no mistake, both are decent and able NBA players. However, these two are better off as back-up point guards rather than be the team’s long term starter. That said, the need for a star playmaker like Trey Young comes in.
Young’s three point shooting would fill a need in Orlando. This year, the Magic rank 17th in the league in three pointers made and 19th in three point percentage. Orlando is also the league’s 11th best passing team and with the addition of an excellent passer like Young, their offense should pick up from the 18th spot where they are right now.
Orlando needs a point guard. Trae Young is a point guard. And didn’t Young hint that he’d like to play for the Magic too?
Trae Young is touted to be the next Stephen Curry. So if you put him in a backcourt with a similarly sweet shooting guard, then you’d probably have the Splash Brothers 2.0. Sound neat, right?
That’s what’s going to happen if the Suns pick Young with their first round pick. However, as the current owners of the NBA’s worst record, the tanking Suns are likely to get a Top 3 pick in this year’s NBA Draft. Having said that, should the Suns’ pick land in the Top 5, there’s nothing to talk about here.
With a Top 5 pick, the Suns would likely pick the bigger,stronger and more athletic prospects like DeAndre Ayton, Mo Bamba, Marvin Bagley III, Michael Porter Jr. and Luca Doncic. But if they fall out of the Top 5, then they should consider drafting Oklahoma’s Trae Young.
Look, the Suns have several point guards in their roster. They have Elfrid Payton Jr., Tyler Ulis and Brandon Knight. But we know that Payton got shipped out of Orlando because he isn’t a long term solution. Neither are Ulis and Knight. That said, Trae Young could be the Suns’ point guard of the future.
With Young and Devin Booker at the backcourt, the Suns have a duo that is deadly from behind the three point line. We know that Booker can light up the score boards. Remember he score 70 points in a single game a while back? Pairing him with an equally good three point shooting guard like Young would be a shooter’s dream.
But while this backcourt tandem is deadly on offense, the Suns are going to struggle on defense. Booker has never been known as a good defender. Neither is Trae Young. Defense is going to be a problem for this pairing but given how good they are offensively, will their firepower compensate for their lack of ability to defend?
Unlike the Magic and the Suns, the Dallas Mavericks have a point guard who has the goods to be a true franchise player. In fact, the Mavs already acknowledge that the guy they drafted with the 9th pick overall in last year’s draft can become one of the best ever to don a Mavericks jersey.
Along with Donovan Mitchell and Kyle Kuzma, Dennis Smith Jr. is considered one of the big steals in last year’s draft. At 6-3, Smith possesses explosive athleticism and the ability to attack the basket with authority. Not only that, Smith is also a good passer and is currently the Mavs’ starting point guard.
But given his strengths, Smith might look better if he just focuses on scoring and attacking the basket. That said, it would be very plausible that the Mavs would pick another point guard to pair with Smith and probably move him to shooting guard, where he can concentrate on putting up the points.
However, because Smith is 6-3, pairing him with a 6-2 point guard like Trae Young in the backcourt would give the Mavs and undersized backcourt. Like we said in the Phoenix scenario, defense would appear to be the big issue here given the size of both Smith and Young.
But if there’s a coach in the NBA who likes to play with multiple point guards in one line-up, it’s Rick Carlisle. In the past, we saw Carlisle pair Jason Terry with Jason Kidd, Monta Ellis with Jose Calderon and J.R. Barea and Devin Harris. Heck, we’ve even seen Carlisle put three of Smith, Harris, Barea and Ferrell on the court at the same time this season.
Smith and Young should co-exist because Young is the floor spacing backcourt mate that opens up the lanes for Smith to operate. Having Trae Young relieves Dennis Smith Jr. of the ball handling tasks and allows him to concentrate on scoring. Smith is a point guard but when you look at him, he is a scorer at heart. Trae Young, he’s going to make Smith’s life much easier.
New York Knicks
The New York Knicks point guard position is an enigma. After Drafting Frank Ntilikina with the 9th pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, it looked as if the Knicks already had their point guard of the future. But coach Jeff Hornacek decided to slowly break in the young Ntilikina, starting veteran Jarrett Jack instead. He showed flashes of brilliance in some games but overall, Ntilikina never got his game going even when he was given the opportunity to play.
The Knicks complicated the issue by trading for Emmanuel Mudiay at the trade deadline. Like Ntilikina, Mudiay is labeled a point guard but while he’s put up better numbers in New York than he did at Denver, there’s a vibe that he is still not the point guard that the Knicks need to return to the elite level.
The Knicks are currently dead last in three point shooting and for sure, Trae Young could do something about that. Likewise, he stands to be a better passer and playmaker than both Ntilikina and Mudiay. His game IQ appears to be better too. Shooting-wise, it’s a no-contest. Young is eons better than both Ntillikina and Mudiay.
Pairing Young with Courtney Lee ( if Lee is the long term shooting guard ) is better than young with Dennis Smith Jr or Devin Booker. Lee is an excellent defender and could help better in masking Trae Young’s defensive weaknesses. Just like what Klay Thompson does for Stephen Curry in Golden State.
Reportedly, Young is already in the Knicks’ radar. In 2009, the Knicks had their eyes on Stephen Curry but the Warriors, who picked one spot earlier, took him away from the Knicks. This year, the Knicks could have the same dilemma with Trae Young. Hopefully, they’ll finally land a sweet shooting point guard in the draft.
Young has spoken about his willingness to play for the Knicks. What better hype to have the nation’s sensation play in the biggest stage - Madison Square Garden.
Why Trae Young?
Trae Young has been hailed as the next Stephen Curry. Without doubt, he was the breakout star in college this year. But NBA scouts are still divided about him. While some call him Curry 2.0, others say he will be the next Shabazz Napier. Napier was the best collegiate PG in his time. He won two national titles at UConn but was taken 24th in the 2014 draft and is now a back-up point guard in Portland, his third NBA team.
Stephen Curry is a two-time MVP and two-time NBA champion with the Golden State Warriors. He is considered as the greatest shooter of all-time and he has been able to make up for his limitations with his out of this world shooting and great ball handling skills. Whether Trae Young becomes the next Curry or the next Napier remains to be seen. The NBA and its Draft is no exact science.
One thing is sure though. The top teams in the league right now have elite point guards who both can shoot deep and pass well. Look at the Rockets, Warriors, Blazers, Celtics and Raptors. Chris Paul, Curry, Damian Lillard and Kyrie Irving aren’t the best defenders in the league. Nor do they have the size of Ben Simmons or even Lonzo Ball. But they are all high IQ guards, with great playmaking skills and elite court vision. They deliver the right passes at the right time and they have the ability to stroke that three pointer with accuracy ( sure, CP3 has shown his range this season ).
Not only do the league’s current elites have top notch point guards. They have the best backcourt duos in the business. So while some teams already have good guards, they need another one to be elite. That’s where Trae Young would come in.