Prospect Preview: Trae Young

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider
@chrisadempsey

TRAE YOUNG, G, OKLAHOMA
Ht: 6-foot-2
Wt: 180 pounds
2017-18 Stats: 27.4 ppg, 8.7 apg, 3.9 rpg

HOW HE OPERATES

For about a two-month span during the college basketball season, there was no name hotter than Trae Young’s. The Oklahoma Sooners point guard lit up the landscape with high-scoring games, long-range 3-point shooting and an admitted basketball idol in Golden State’s Stephen Curry.

And he rode all of that to being named a first-team All-American.

He was the first player in NCAA Division I history to finish the season leading the country in both scoring (27.4) and assists (8.7). Young's 27.4 points per game was the highest scoring average ever recorded by a Sooner, or Big 12, player. His 8.7 assists was the highest average in OU history and was second-highest in Big 12 history.

Speed is a major part of Young’s game, and this is a player with elite quickness. He’s got a lightning-quick first step and can effortlessly beat any defender off the dribble to get to the rim. Young ran a ton of pick-and-roll in college, so the learning curve there is less than for others. He can hit the ground running in that action in the NBA.

Turnovers, however, were a real issue. Young had at least five in 19 games. He had eight or more in four games, and he had 12 in one game. Correcting it requires Young not taking as many chances with his passes, limiting the number of times he’s dribbling into traffic, improving his ball handling overall, and being aware of the teammate he’s passing to. There were occasions where Young would lob up a pass to the rim to a teammate that wasn’t able to jump up and finish the alley-oop.

Young can make very long 3-pointers, but took too many during the season and missed a big chunk of them. He’ll work to get a fundamental base of playing that will lead him into good shots. But he definitely believes in his 3-point shooting ability, and hit 36 percent from the arc during the season. Young will continue to get more consistent at finishing among the trees at the rim. His vision as a passer is a strength. Young can make all the throws, and with both hands. He just has to work to make the right pass all the time.

Defensively, he has quick feet, active feet, and can keep himself in front of ball handlers. Size and strength are concerns; it will be tough for him to get a hand up that truly disrupts the shot against some of the bigger guards in the NBA. But he’s got very good instincts and quick hands. Young jumps right into passing lanes for steals, and gives good effort on defense overall.

HIS BEST FIT

Trae Young needs a team that will put the ball in his hands and give him the green light to score. He has the chance to grow into one of the deadliest scoring guards in the NBA, with the ability to impact an offense with his passing as well. If you need a guard to really push the pace, Young can do that. He’s a perfect match for the speed in which NBA games are being played these days.

Christopher Dempsey: christopher.dempsey@altitude.tv and @chrisadempsey on Twitter

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