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5 Can't-Miss Matchups: Trae Young vs. Luka Doncic

All-Star guard showdown in Dallas among the matchups to watch this week

Traded for one another on Draft night in 2018, Trae Young and Luka Doncic expect the constant comparisons and debates regarding which player is better, not to mention the chatter about which team caught the better end of the transaction.

Young correctly noted recently that it’s too early to make such comparisons. But that won’t stop anybody from doing so.

Expect the conversation regarding these two All-Star starters to intensify on Saturday (8:30 ET, League Pass), when the teams meet in Dallas for the first matchup this season between the Hawks and the Mavericks.

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1. Trae Young vs. Luka Doncic

Update: Doncic (ankle) won’t play

Saturday, Feb. 1 (8:30 ET, League Pass)

Last regular season meeting: Dec. 12, 2018

Forever linked due to them being traded for one another in 2018, Young and Doncic face off for just the third time of their careers, and the first time since their rookie seasons. The last time Young and Doncic matched up, both produced 24-point double-doubles. Doncic’s involved points and rebounds, while Young generated his double-double off points and assists.

As Young recently noted, this hasn’t really been a fair fight because the teams are trending in opposite directions. Doncic has the better supporting cast on a squad pushing for a postseason berth, while Young is working to lead a young, struggling team that might be quite a bit away from legitimate playoff contention.

Head-to-head stats below are via Basketball Reference.

Trae Young 1 1 20.5 2.0 7.5
Luka Doncic 1 1 22.5 9.5 4.0

2. Rudy Gobert vs. Nikola Jokic

Thursday, Jan. 30 (10:30 ET, TNT)

Last regular season meeting: April 9, 2019

It’s fitting that these two meet up on a night in which both could be named as All-Star reserves from the Western Conference. Dating back to Jan. 23, 2019, Gobert has won each of the last three battles against Jokic.

Last season, in the four times these two clashed head-to-head, Jokic scored a total of 25 points with eight assists and seven turnovers while shooting 9-for-30. Over that same timeframe, Gobert scored 15 points in the four matchups against Jokic, shooting 5-for-14 with two turnovers.

Head-to-head stats below are via Basketball Reference.

Rudy Gobert 8 3 13.9 10.4 1.2
Nikola Jokic 3 8 12.4 9.4 5.6

3. Ja Morant vs. Zion Williamson

Friday, Jan. 31 (8 ET, League Pass)

Last regular season meeting: First career meeting

The league’s two most exciting rookies finally meet head-to-head. But these two were connected way before they became the top two picks of the 2019 Draft. Morant and Williamson grew up in South Carolina nearly 90 minutes apart and played for the same AAU team for a season.

Williamson didn’t even make his NBA debut until last Wednesday, and he scored 17 consecutive points in the fourth quarter of a loss to San Antonio while Morant cheered on his fellow rookie. Morant leads all rookies in scoring, assists and double-doubles, and is currently the favorite to win Kia Rookie of the Year, doing so while leading an exciting, young Memphis squad that has serious playoff hopes.

4. P.J. Tucker vs. Carmelo Anthony

Wednesday, Jan. 29 (10 ET, ESPN)

Last regular season meeting: Jan. 15, 2020

Anthony has been pretty productive in revenge games this season. He hit the New York Knicks for 26 points in his return to Madison Square Garden, dropped 19 in his first game against the Thunder and shot 7-for-10 for 18 points and 12 rebounds earlier this month in a 117-107 Portland win during his return to Houston.

Most of the damage inflicted by Anthony on that night came against former teammate Tucker. Anthony was 3-for-3 and scored nine points when Tucker guarded him.

Head-to-head stats below are via Basketball Reference.

P.J. Tucker 6 7 8.0 5.9 1.9
Carmelo Anthony 7 6 23.2 7.8 2.6

5: Kyrie Irving vs. Derrick Rose

Wednesday, Jan. 29 (7:30 ET, ESPN)

Last regular season meeting: Jan. 25, 2020

Irving racked up 45 points on 15-for-30 shooting last week when he faced off against Rose, as the Nets claimed a win in OT against the Pistons. But it was Rose that sent the game into the extra period by going the length of the floor to hit a bucket with 1.9 seconds remaining in regulation.

Irving has claimed victory in the last two games in this series. Matched up for 1:38 against Rose, Irving hit his lone shot attempt. Rose scored 4 points matched up against Irving in addition to dishing two dimes.

Head-to-head stats below are via Basketball Reference.

Kyrie Irving 7 5 21.3 3.3 6.4
Derrick Rose 5 7 19.3 3.2 3.8

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Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for You can e-mail him here , find his archive here and follow him on Twitter .

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