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Luka Doncic, Trae Young start sophomore seasons right where they left off

After stellar rookie seasons from Luka Doncic and Trae Young, the two rising stars picked up right where they left off during the NBA’s opening week. In fact, Doncic and Young look even better and have both their teams off to a 2-0 start.

Doncic is coming off an impressive performance on Friday night, registering a 25-point triple-double in a win over the New Orleans Pelicans. The Mavericks’ leading scorer went off for 34 points the game prior, the most in a season opener by a player under 21 years old in NBA history. He already holds the all-time record for most triple-doubles for players under 21 with nine, more than Magic Johnson (seven) and LeBron James (five).

Young also posted numbers that put him in the company of a current and future Hall of Famer. Through two games, he’s combined for 77 points and 18 assists. Larry Bird and Russell Westbrook are the only other players in NBA history to record at least 75 points and 15 assists over their first two games of the season.

The Hawks’ cold-blooded shooter is averaging 38.5 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists. Doncic is averaging 29.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists.

In their last respective contests, Doncic and Young each banked in a vicious step-back 3-pointer that iced the game against a division opponent.

Doncic drilled a high-arching dagger against the Pelicans.

Young drained a rainbow clincher against the Magic.

Both players hitting a step-back 3 that banks in and sticks the knife in the back of a division foe is extremely coincidental, but it also illuminates how these pair of nascent ballhandlers will continue to be linked throughout their careers.

The Hawks drafted Doncic with the No. 3 pick in 2018, but traded away his rights to the Mavericks in exchange for Young and a 2019 Draft pick (Cam Reddish, who looks great on defense but has struggled offensively to begin the season). During the 2018-19 season, both players ended up battling for the Kia Rookie of the Year award, with Doncic emerging as the winner.

Some want to call it a rivalry, and the comparisons last season were ubiquitous. But it’s certainly been time to shift from that narrative as both players are incredible young talents who are set to rule the 2020s in their own way. And the pair of budding stars respect each other enough to where “rivalry” seems like a forced notion.

Doncic reacted to Young’s game-winner on Twitter, and the two often laud each other’s highlights on Instagram.

There’s no battle for Rookie of the Year anymore. Maybe one day there will be a race between the two for Kia MVP.

But for now, we should appreciate them both and the sophomore tear they appear to be waging.

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