- No incoming rookie has faced immediate criticism like Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young. The Crossover defends his play at NBA Summer League and explains why people should stop comparing him to Stephen Curry.
It hasn't even been a month since the NBA draft and Atlanta Hawks rookie Trae Young is already being labeled a bust by some critics. The Open Floor crew defends Young's play at NBA Summer League and explain why people should pump their breaks on the Stephen Curry comparisons.
(Listen to the latest Open Floor Podcast here. The following transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Andrew Sharp: Moving to Summer League now. Avi says, “Trae Young is going to shoot less than 35% from three as a rookie. Give him time they will say—Steph Curry took time. Even though Steph Curry took five years to become a superstar, he was never a Trae Young. Steph shot 43.7% from three his rookie year with a nice 53.5 effective field-goal percentage. Is it crazy to say calling Trae Young a potential poor mans Steph Curry is reckless and irresponsible. Honestly, it looks like he will turn into a rich man’s Aaron Brooks.”
Now listen, that is great hating from Avi and I respect the commitment to Trae Young trolling there, but I am really a Trae Young believer and the one thing I want to say is that people need to stop f------ comparing him to Stephen Curry. He is always going to lose in that comparison and that’s not even what even makes him great.
What makes Trae Young great is that he is much closer to Steve Nash—like the best-case scenario of Trae Young is closer to Steve Nash than Steph Curry. Watching this dude pass it becomes much harder to imagine a version of his career where he is not at least good. Throw in the shooting obviously but I think his most special skill is going to be his passing and his ability to kind of work in tight spaces, and we are already starting to see that in Summer League. So what do you think?
Golliver: Andrew, I'm very disappointed in you. I am very frustrated with you. This podcast only works if you are wrong. If you keep nailing all of your takes and when you are dead right, it leaves me with nothing to say.
Avi, I respected your sarcastic quote: “Give him time, Steph Curry took time,” but the rest of the hating I wasn’t in to it at all. I think Trae Young is a classic example of in Summer League if your first game is below par everyone says your summer was below par.
Sharp: It became like a talking point. People were talking about, 'Oh yeah, it’s a great rookie class except for Trae Young,' and they were talking about him in hush tones—it was just like two games!
Golliver: I was getting asked in almost every radio interview is he a bust? Andrew, to my eyes he has been the best point guard in Vegas. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has also been really good, but there is no question he is the best passer in Las Vegas period.
It’s not just that his best skill is going to be passing, it’s right now his best skill is passing. He diced up a team last night for like five or six straight buckets with assist after assist after assist during crunch time.
People are just really turned off by his shot selection because his efficiency isn’t as high because he is so new school. Every middle basketball school coach in the world rolls their eyes because they have a Trae Young on their team—just a guy who takes the dumb shot from 30 feet and heaves it from his waist because he can’t probably even shoot the ball up there and they think, 'Oh, this is where the game is going.' The real old man is take is that Trae Young’s shot selection is going to make him Aaron Brooks.
Golliver: Put aside the shooting stuff for a little bit because I don’t think he is a selfish player. I think he is very self confident but is a very willing and capable passer and he showed all sorts of different passes here in Vegas.
I think the biggest question for their season is: How green is his light? Does he get to take 12 threes a game? Or does he get to take seven threes a game? And how does the coaching staff communicates those instructions to him? And I think the biggest challenge he is going to face is earning his teammates' trust.
The best way to earn the trust of veteran players—even guys that are young like Atlanta’s roster—is to feed them the ball. Trae Young is smart enough to realize if he goes out and shoots eight three-pointers from 30 feet and he’s not shooting very well, guys are going to turn on him and look at him sideways.
I think that peer pressure combined with a smart management of, 'Like, hey, here is what we are looking for from you in terms of expectations and role heading into the season,' can put him in a position where he doesn’t feel the need to have a scoring burden, and it won’t be so heavy on his shoulders and he can sink into a more natural role where he is more of a pass-first guy.