Can You Trust Oklahoma’s Trae Young At the NBA Level?

Trae Young
USA Today - Kevin Jairaj

Although he’s playing point guard this year, he’s not a natural point guard that an NBA team can rely on to run a team …Will have to adjust to not being a volume shooter which could have an effect on his effectiveness … Doesn’t like when defenses are too physical with him … Not a great finisher around the basket due to his size and physical attributes … Makes some silly mistakes at the PG position. Needs to add some muscles to his upper body, but appears as though he’ll always be skinny …

It can easily be assumed that the above quote is from a scouting report of University of Oklahoma’s freshman star Trae Young.

After capturing the basketball world to begin the 2017-2018 college hoops season with jump shots from the hot dog concession stand and Tom Brady-ish touchdown passes for layups, the 19-year-old has come down to earth a bit over the last month or so.

As of this writing, the Oklahoma Sooners have lost six straight games and need to right the ship heading into conference tournament play.

After a 16-5 start in which Young averaged 30.3 points per game, he has cooled down to 21.5 points a night on 33% shooting during this skid.

Since we are a society that thrives off of being prisoners of the moment, this has prompted a steady stream of pundits writing off Young as exposed and some have even compared him to the likes of Jimmer Fredette and OU alum Buddy Hield.

Make no mistake. Young is a dynamic offensive player and will be a real NBA player on the next level. If he is hanging around when that Nets pick comes up, the Cleveland Cavaliers should definitely take a look in his direction.

The following is the case of Trae Young vs. Everyone.


The Price of Being Number One

Young is by far the best offensive threat that the Sooners have to offer. His 39.4% usage rate is the highest in college basketball. Oklahoma’s offense doesn’t just run through Trae Young. It is Trae Young.

That being said, Young has to take both the praise of his 26-point 22-assist (tied for most in a single game in NCAA history) effort against Northwestern on Dec. 19 along with the criticism that comes with his 3-for-13 shooting, 11-point game against Kansas a few days ago.

It is similar to the NFL where the quarterback has to take the highs and the lows through the media as the face of the team.

Despite his recent struggles, Young is averaging 28.3 points (1st) and 9.2 assists (1st) per game and has done it with the unique burden of being the only source of offense for an otherwise underwhelming Sooners squad.

Coaches Employ Ridiculous Defenses Against Him

Unsurprisingly, opposing coaches have begun to take an “anyone but him” mentality when facing Trae Young and it has been working.

It has become common practice to switch defenders throughout the game, trap off of every pick and roll, and play full court hand in the pocket defense with sometimes multiple people!

Rest assured, that defense cannot be duplicated on the next level. There are times where Young’s teammates are left so alone it reminds me of leaving your little cousin open so he can get a jumper in at the family cookout pickup game.

In the NBA, Young will be subject to much more conventional defenses due to the increase in talent of his teammates no matter what team he goes to.

In the NBA you simply cannot leave guys wide open in hopes that they will miss. Though the talent of the individual defenders will increase as well, Young has the skillset and IQ to operate an efficient NBA offense when surrounded by superior talent.

He’s…..19 Years Old

While early signs of maturity in a player’s game is a telling factor, It is completely useless to make turnovers and shot selection the base of an argument especially when a player is in this system.

Last year we celebrated LaMelo Ball’s 92 point performance that came largely off of him having the proverbial “green light” in the Chino Hills offense to shoot whenever and from wherever he deemed necessary.

While Oklahoma’s offense isn’t as exaggerated as the Chino Hills system, Young has similar free reign offensively and that freedom shows in his numbers, particularly in losses.

Young is averaging 19.6 shots per game and is the first player to reach that number since Eddie House’s last year at Arizona State. While his shot taking is at times too early in the shot clock, that volume of shooting is not a player decision.

Oklahoma’s offense is Young shooting and passing the ball as much as possible. The perception that he shoots the ball too much and that he is selfish has to be shared by people who haven’t watched his game tape.

Young has incredible vision and routinely sets up his teammates in the best possible position to score. Often this is after being played full court and denied on defense.

At the NBA level, Young will not have nearly as much responsibility offensively and will fit in nicely in any system due to his sharp outside shooting and pass first mentality.

In today’s game, you cannot go wrong with adding another long-distance shooter. At 6’2 and weighing in at 180 pounds, many have worried about his slight frame when it comes to being able to compete in the NBA.

The same was said about Kevin Durant when he came out of Texas and I am still not sure he has touched a single barbell in his NBA career.

Young will require patience and development as will Marvin Bagley, Mohamed Bamba, Deandre Ayton, and other high profile college players this year.

However, It can be argued that he has the best pro-ready skills right now. No other player in America has shown the combination of scoring and distribution that he has while being the focal point of every opposing scouting report.

Oh, and the quote that began this article? It comes from a 2009 NBA draft profile of future NBA MVP and defending champion named Stephen Curry.


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