Going into the 2017-2018 college basketball season, two players were being debated as the perennial top pick of next year’s NBA draft: Marvin Bagley III and Michael Porter Jr. So far, Bagley III has lived up to the hype, averaging 21.3 points and 11 rebounds per game for the Duke Blue Devils. Unfortunately for Porter, he suffered a season-ending back injury in the second half of Missouri’s season-opener against Iowa State. Scouts also believe that European sensation Luka Doncic has the skills to be the best player in this draft. However, while all of these players are well-deserving for such a high honor, they won’t be the best player in the upcoming draft. No sure, the best player in the upcoming draft will be Oklahoma Sooners point guard Trae Young, and let me provide you reasons why.
He Can Put Up Numbers
This season, Young is putting up ridiculous numbers: averaging 28.5 points, 10.2 assists, and 1.9 steals per game while shooting 58 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from three. Per 40 minutes, Young’s numbers are even more mesmerizing with 35.3 points, 12.6 assists, and 2.4 steals per game. Early on, Young has drawn comparisons to Steph Curry when he was at Davidson, by mainly scoring points in high volumes. When taking a look at Curry’s final and most dominant season at Davidson as a junior, it’s equivalent to Young’s now: averaging 28.6 points, 5.6 assists, and 2.5 steals per game. In a game against Northwestern State earlier this week, Young put up 26 points and 22 assists in only 29 minutes of game action. Numbers like that in such a low amount of minutes is down-right insane for any college player, let alone for a true freshman point guard.
Raises His Play In Big Games
So far this season, Young has stepped his game up when it matters, averaging 33.3 points, seven assists, and 1.7 steals per game against power conference opponents. Here are three of his stat lines from games against similar competition. Against Oregon, Young dropped 43 points, seven assists, and two steals. Against USC, Young registered 29 points, nine assists, and a steal. And when Young went to battle against third-ranked Wichita State, Young scored a “ho-hum” 29 points to go alongside 10 assists. Not to mention, all these games were played on the road or at a neutral site.
Has Been a Winner Throughout His Young Career
In high school, Trae Young helped his team win the 2016 Oklahoma 6A state title. Young also was given the opportunity to play for the United States U-18 team in Chile, helping them take home the gold medal for the United States. Young also won the 2016 Nike EYBL title with his AAU team MOKAN Elite, which also featured Michael Porter Jr. Last season, the Oklahoma Sooners finished 11-20 with a 9th place finish in the Big 12. With the addition of Young alone, the Sooners so far are 10-1, nearly eclipsing last year’s win total.
Style of Play Fits With Other NBA stars
As I mentioned above, Young’s skill-set is akin to Curry. His ability to pull up from literally anywhere and knock down a shot 25, 28 or 30 feet away is uncanny. I mean, look at these series of jump shots.
The ability to get in the paint also, and shoot floaters is similar to what Steve Nash did throughout his NBA career. Young also has the great passing ability that Nash had in his career.
If I had to compare him to a player I would say he has a lot of Tony Parker in him. Young is about the same size at 6′ 2″, but a little smaller in stature compared to Parker. However, Young possesses the same quickness that Parker displayed in the early stages of his career. Both get to the rim proficiently and when the drive, they drive hard. The majority of layups made by Young are extended layups, whereas Parker’s calling card was finishing directly at the rim.
Young is projected to be in the top 10 in the upcoming draft. NBA teams need to take a close look at him. He has the ability to be one of the all-time greats in the league, especially with the rise of point guards becoming gunners and the gradual increase of three-pointers. Young’s stature, size, and athleticism may not be great by any means, but those same measurables were given to current All-Stars like Isaiah Thomas and of course, Steph Curry when they came out. In reality, it’s not about athleticism most of the time. It’s the skill of a player that can take a point guard to the next level – and that same mold defines Young definitively.