Hawks' Trae Young Says 'It's To Early' to Think Mavs' Luka Doncic Is Better (But It's Not)

Mike Fisher

DALLAS - There is nothing wrong with Trae Young having confidence in himself, and there is nothing wrong with Atlanta Hawks fans clinging to the belief that in the 2018-19 NBA Draft class, Young is almost as good as it gets.


There is something wrong, however, with denying the realities of Luka Doncic's existence, in Dallas, an existence that made him the run-away winner over Young in last year's Rookie of the Year race, an existence that is putting Luka in this season's MVP discussion, an existence that, by the numbers, places Doncic - at age 20 with any of greatest NBA players in the history of the sport at that same tender age.

Said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle: “These numbers are just crazy. It’s hard to fathom.''

That reality doesn't take away from what the Suns' Deandre Ayton might someday do, or what the Kings' Marvin Bagley might someday do (though Sacramento fans on Wednesday, watching Luka post yet another mind-boggling triple-double, seem impatient) or what the Atlanta Hawks - who traded Doncic to get Young and another first-round pick - might do with the dynamic Young as their centerpiece.

But today's reality? Why must we pretend?

Doncic,'' Young says, "is on a team, and they’ve got more veterans and is a team that’s more looking to win now. We’re more of a team that wants to win now, but we’re focusing more on developing, and we’re one of the youngest teams in the league. It’s just two totally different situations.''

Young's remarks, via Michael Scotto of Bleacher Report, don't ring true when it comes to what each franchise is "looking to do.'' Both franchises are trying to both win right now and "focus on developing.''

It just so happens that, thanks to Doncic, Dallas has developed more quickly, the Mavs at the halfway point of the NBA season with a 26-15 record (good for sixth in the West), the Hawks at 9-32 and last in the East.

Additionally, the claim that there is a substantial difference in the ages of the two rosters is bogus. The Hawks' average age is 25.76; the Mavs is 27.40 - and we suspect we could juggle the numbers closer if little-used J.J. Barea (age 35) weren't a factor.

Continues Young: "So it’s just hard to really judge who won or lost (the trade) right now. I don’t really pay too much attention to it.''

Yeah, but the Hawks (on social media, anyway) certainly do "pay attention to it,'' seemingly to the point of obsession over the inane belief that Young, as good as he is (29.1 points and 8.5 assists and a leading vote-getter among East guards in the All-Star process), is superior to Doncic, who doesn't just have numbers that jump off the 2019-20 page ... but rather, numbers that jump off the page in LeBron/Jordan/Oscar ways.

It's too early to judge the Hawks too harshly for making a mistake, and maybe it's too early to do the same in Phoenix and Sacramento, too. But it's not too early to judge Luka Doncic as the "best in his class'' anymore, so much so that that's not even the Luka debate anymore.

Because, with all due respect to the classmates he's left in the dust, the Doncic debate isn't about "best in the class'' ... it's about "best in the league.''