The following are excerpts from Trae Young’s scouting report onA�NBAdraft.net.
- “Young does not have ideal size at 6-2.”
- “Young’s shot selection at times leaves a lot to be desired.”
- “He lacks the length and vertical explosiveness to finish through NBA length and athleticism and does not project as an efficient scorer at the basket in the NBA.”
- “Will need to add strength to be able to better finish off drives and also defend.”
If those concerns look familiar to you, it’s because they are nearly identical to those placed on another rather unique prospect. The following are excerpts from Stephen Curry’s scouting report onA�NBAdraft.net:
- “At 6-2, he’s extremely small for the NBA shooting guard position.”
- “Can overshoot and rush into shots from time to time.”
- “Not a great finisher around the basket due to his size and physical attributes.”
- baclofen online, zithromax reviews. “Needs to add some muscles to his upper body, but appears as though he’ll always be skinny.”
Is there a single human being on Earth who is still worried about Stephen Curry’s size? Or his shot-selection? Or his finishing ability? Is there any team that would look at trading for him and ultimately say “no thanks, we’re worried that he’s too skinny.” Has it ever cost him a game, an MVP vote, a championship?
No, because there is not a basketball player on Earth who doesn’t come with some concern or another. There has never been a perfect prospect entering the draft, not even LeBron James. What matters is not what a prospect can’t do. It’s what he can do.
And Young does several things at an elite level. Ignore his shooting for a moment, and pretend it comes with at least some degree for concern. Young is the best passer in college basketball. He holds that distinction by a wide margin. He averaged 8.7 assists per game, more than a full assist better than Lonzo Ball last season (7.6). These are not the sort of unrealistic NBA passes that Ball thrived on either. Young gets his assists in the half court, running pick-and-roll and finding teammates in traffic in drive-and-kick situations.
This is one of the most valuable skills in the NBA. It is the engine that drives the Houston Rockets. The ability to generate open shots for others, particularly open three-pointers, is the primary reason John Wall is a star. We are not talking about some team in the playoff hunt or a decent starter here. We are talking about a team that is on pace to win 66 games and a playerA�we rankedA�11th in the NBA coming into the season.
Passing isn’t his only trick, though. Young averaged 8.6 free throw attempts per game. Only two NBA players beat him in that area: James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo. NBA games are 48 minutes long. College games are 40 minutes long. The fact that he makes 86 percent of those free throws is the cherry on top.
So we know for a fact that Young is an elite passer and he draws an extremely high amount of fouls. But let’s start hammering down some of those weaknesses.
Young isn’t going to be able to finish at the rim? He made 48.8 percent of his two-point shots at Oklahoma. That’s not a lot, but he was also a a freshman. Curry made only 51.9 percent of his two-pointers as a junior at Davidson. In his first four NBA seasons, he made only 60 percent of his shots at the basket. In his last four, he has made over 67 percent.
That’s because bodies change between the age of 19 and 29. Curry entered the NBA at 21-years-old and still developed significantly physically. Young is two years younger. That’s two extra years to develop physically. Remember when Kevin Durant failed to bench press 185 pounds even once at his NBA Draft combine? Nobody is saying he is too skinny to finish at the rim anymore.
Young is going to grow physically, and he doesn’t need to mentally. He is already an incredibly crafty finisher around the basket who is willing to take hits there (hence, the free throw attempts). That already makes him a better finisher than Ball or another No. 2 overall pick point guard: D’Angelo Russell. Neither of them have ever been comfortable attacking the rim. At least Young tries.
He doesn’t try on defense, though, and that’s admittedly a concern. You know who else doesn’t try on defense? Damian Lillard. The Blazers don’t regret drafting him No. 6 overall. He’d go No. 2 if that draft was re-done today. Kyrie Irving loafed his way to a championship on defense. Individual offense is infinitely more valuable than individual defense. The last five point guards to win a championship were Curry, Irving, Tony Parker, Mario Chalmers and Derek Fisher. None of them were good defenders. At times, they were all quite bad.
But they got by because of what they did on offense. Their skill sets were all different, but all useful. The common thread, aside from Parker, is that they could all shoot. Which brings us to Young’s most hotly-debated skill.
Young shot over 40 percent from three-point range in his first 21 games. He proceeded to shoot 25 percent in his next ten games. This is a worthless sample size. You can find slumps in any player, particularly a 19-year-old. Between February 16th and March 3rd of 2010, Curry shot 30.8 percent from three-point range. He was two years older than Young at the time, and he did this at the NBA level, where he had NBA-level teammates.
That is not a luxury Young has. When he was defended like a typical college basketball player, he was perhaps the best freshman in the sport’s history. When defenses realized his teammates were worthless, they double- and triple-teamed him mercilessly. The perfect example of this came in his NCAA tournament loss to Rhode Island. Young shot three-for-nine from three-point range. His teammates shot one-for-11. Young got them wide open shots that they were incapable of hitting. That will not happen at the NBA level, where even the Sacramento Kings have players who will make you pay for such lopsided defense.
Also relevant: free-throw percentage is as predictive, if not more so, of NBA three-point shooting than college three-point shooting. Why? There are two primary reasons. The first is that the three-point line is shorter in college. Young willingly takes shots from far behind the line, so that doesn’t appear to affect him. The other is that the samples in college are too small to be relevant.
The slump that worried fans and scouts so much over Young lasted nine games. Nobody jumped off of Curry’s bandwagon after his nine-game shooting slump as a rookie. They had more common sense than that. It’s not a meaningful number. But making 229 of 266 free throws is. It shows that Young’s shooting form works. That’s what will matter at the NBA level.
That is what he can do. He puts the ball in the hoop. He helps his teammates do the same. And no matter what his flaws are, those two things will make him an NBA superstar. Which brings us to the draft.
Luka DonA?iA� is a prodigy who is utterly destroying the Spanish ACB League, which presents better competition than the NCAA. He has all of Young’s upside without as much risk, and deserves to be drafted ahead of him. DeAndre Ayton might be the next Joel Embiid, and he has backed that up of late at the University of Arizona during a very trying investigation into his eligibility. That puts him ahead of Young too.
But for Young to go below a player like Mohamed Bamba, who is being drafted purely on what he might be rather than what he has already proven to be, is ridiculous. Bamba might be Rudy Gobert. The likelier outcome is that he’s Anthony Randolph, just another long player who can theoretically shoot but doesn’t in practice. Marvin Bagley has plenty of Jahlil Okafor in him. The list goes on and on. The draft is full of players who aren’t as good as Young, but will get picked ahead of him for bad reasons. Young gets compared to Curry and bashed for sharing the same weaknesses. Players like Bamba and Bagley get praised for comparing favorably to inferior players.
Young probably isn’t going to be the next Curry on the court. That’s not a knock on him, Curry is just that good. But he will absolutely be the next Curry from a draft perspective. He will, without a shadow of a doubt, be the player who everyone should have known was as good as advertised but didn’t. Some day, Bagley is going to be the Jonny Flynn to Young’s Curry.