Draft Profile: Is Trae Young The Next Steph Curry?

Oklahoma Athletics Department

The Hawks hold the rights to the #3, #19, #30 and #34 picks in the upcoming June 21 NBA Draft. At Hawks.com, we'll be talking to some of the writers and bloggers who watched some of this year's key prospects most closely. 

Today we speak to Jack Shields (@jlarryshields), editor-in-chief of Crimson & Cream Machine, SB Nation's site for University of Oklahoma sports, about freshman guard Trae Young:

What does Trae Young do well? 

He can do a number of things at a high level, but the one thing that obviously stands out is his shooting range. As is the case with Steph Curry, the guy is a legitimate threat to hit anything within 30 feet of the basket. A few things that are often overlooked, however, are his abilities as a distributor and his knack for getting to the basket. Young led the nation in scoring as a freshman, but he also led the nation with 8.8 assists per contest per contest and tied the NCAA record with 22 dimes in a single game back in December. On top of that, he's a fantastic ball handler who has a knack for getting past the first defender, drawing contact and getting to the line, where he converted on over 86 percent of his attempts last season.  

How does his game translate to the NBA?

I think the guy I mentioned earlier -- Steph Curry -- sort of paved the way for players of Young's mold to be considered elite point-guard prospects at the next level. However, Curry was far from a finished product when he entered the NBA, and Young will have to make similar strides with his body (even though he has already added 11 lbs. since the end of the season) and his defense. He could end up having a great career in the Association, but he's going to need a few years to develop in those two areas in particular.   

What can he do to improve?

A guy of his size lack who lacks pure athleticism will probably never be an elite defender in the NBA, but there are strides he can make that will allow him to avoid being a liability on that end. Smaller point guards have to approach things a bit differently, and he could end up being pretty pesky if he can learn a few tricks of the trade. Additionally, his shot selection is something that often leaves a bit to be desired. When the offense begins to stagnate, he can get into the habit of taking a few too many of those deep three-point attempts, which often translates to a wasted offensive possession. There were times in which he was the only viable offensive weapon on the court at Oklahoma and often felt like he had to go for the home run, so hopefully he'll be surrounded by some decent pieces who can help him move past that tendency.   

What style of play suits his game best?

An up-tempo team that likes to get out and run would probably suit him, as he's capable of doing incredible things in transition. That's not to say, however, that he isn't capable of thriving in the half-court game, but his skill set is clearly suited for a team that will allow him to put open-court passing prowess on full display. A team that likes to spread the floor and set off-ball screens -- similar to what's seen with Golden State -- would also be a plus. 

To which current or past NBA player would you compare him?

Curry is the first name that comes to mind for most people, but labeling him as Curry 2.0 would be a bit of an oversimplification. He's always tried to model his game after Steve Nash, and that often manifests itself when he makes the spectacular pass or finishes a contested attempt at the rim -- the latter of which he's surprisingly adept at doing. He's also a bit better in those two areas than Curry was by the time he left Davidson. Having said that Curry is still probably the best comparison due to his body type and shooting range.