Case Study: What happened to Trae Young?

Trae Young

Trae Young was one of the best college basketball players in the nation last year, without a doubt. That’s why he was selected with the 5th pick in the NBA Draft this year and is now the face of the Atlanta Hawks franchise.

Trae Young is a baller, don’t get it twisted.


At a certain point last season at Oklahoma, we saw a steady decline from Trae Young and he hasn’t really found his way back. Through the preseason and first two games of this NBA season, Trae Young has yet to shoot above 50% from the field and is not close to the same player that we saw early on during his time with the Sooners.

So, today we have a project on our hands. We are going to figure out what happened to Trae Young. We’ll pose a bunch of different theories as to why he’s a changed player and try to focus in on the one that seems like the most viable. Some will be detailed and make sense while others will seem a little far-fetched. Either way, this case study needs to be done so that the Atlanta Hawks can get the face of their franchise back.

Let’s do this:



The case of Jevon Carter

Back on January 6th of this year, while Trae Young was still in college, the then 12-1 Oklahoma Sooners took on West Virginia. Oklahoma was riding a 10 game winning streak going into Mountaineer country. Trae Young had looked unguardable up to this point in the season and we knew that going up against West Virginia was going to be the ultimate test and it all had to do with one man:

Image result for jerry newman meme

No, Jerry, not Newman. The answer is never Newman. The answer was Jevon Carter.

Jevon Carter was universally known as the best defensive guard in the nation for quite some time. He was hard-nosed, extremely aggressive, and would pick you up the full length of the court and face guard you the entire game. No one enjoyed going up against Carter and I’m sure Trae was no exception.

Lets get into the tape to see if we can find any evidence that would point towards the decline of Mr. Young. We’ll start with the very first offensive possession of the game for Oklahoma:

This was not at all common for Trae Young to not touch the ball at all on a given possession. Trae hadn’t seen a defender quite like Jevon Carter yet, so that might have been a little startling for him.

Let’s continue looking at some film though.

Here’s the 2nd possession of the game and we have a very similar result. Trae immediately sees Jevon Carter staring down his soul before the inbounds pass and then gets trapped in the corner as he touches the ball for the very first time in the game.

As the game went on, this was a continued theme. Trae continued to be given no room whatsoever and just looked defeated on many occasions.

I mean…

…does this look like a guy who is happy to be playing Jevon Carter??

They are literally less than 3 minutes into the game and Trae Young looks like he just got out of that gigantic pile at the Battle of the Bastards.

Oklahoma ended up losing to West Virginia by a score of 89 to 76 where Trae Young had 29 points, but shot 8/22 from the floor and 3/12 from deep. He also had 8 turnovers in the contest. It wasn’t Trae’s worst game, but it definitely wasn’t a good one for him.

Following this defeat, Oklahoma would go on to actually win their next 2 games including a game where Trae Young put up 43 points against TCU.

So, maybe this wasn’t the definitive game that led to Trae’s decline, but did Jevon Carter’s effort open Trae’s eyes to what the NBA would be like? Was Trae not able to get Carter out of his head following this effort?

We can’t know for sure, but it’s possible Jevon Carter had some affect on Trae Young.



The case of Collin Sexton

This particular case study comes to us from one of our writers, DJ Allen, who specifically remembered seeing Collin Sexton clamp down on Young. This game was actually just three weeks following the match-up between Trae and Carter.

Sexton, like Carter, was known for being a tough defender who prides himself on that end of the floor. We all remember that look he gave to Josh Hart in Summer League this summer…

We weren’t able to get complete footage of the first couple possessions of the game between Alabama and Oklahoma, but from what we did see, it was pretty evident that Sexton was a bother throughout the entirety of the game:

Still, if you watch the end of that clip, you can see Trae actually showing some confidence. While Young did end up having arguably his worst showing of his entire collegiate career, (17 points, 6/17 FG, 2/8 3PT) that confidence points towards the fact that Sexton didn’t have too much of an effect on Trae mentally. Couple that with the knowledge that Trae had a phenomenal game against Baylor just three nights after this where he scored 44 points, and you sort of come to the conclusion that this theory doesn’t hold too much water.

But, lets dig a little deeper, shall we?

Following that game against Baylor, Oklahoma actually rattled off 6 losses in a row and Trae absolutely didn’t look like his normal self. Over that stretch, Trae shot 33.6% from the field and came out and tried to explain what was going on:

“I’m getting guarded like nobody else in the country is being guarded, scouted on like no one else in the country is. It’s a mystery coming out each and every game to try and figure out how a team is going to guard me and how I’m going to dictate how my team wins. It’s a lot tougher for me to score now than it was in the beginning (of the season). It’s a process. Right now, it’s tough.”

Obviously, you can tell that his shooting woes and the way the opposition was guarding him was getting in his head. Did this game against Sexton coupled with his earlier game against Jevon just put Trae over the edge? Once Trae let the ball go, did he never truly get it back?

You can be the judge of that.



The case of the hair

Oh yes, we are totally serious. We absolutely need to take the hair into consideration. Our guy Ryan Calpin was actually the first person to bring up this theory saying, “As he continued to lose hair, his skills went with it”. That’s a bold claim, so we need to investigate it.

Well, first of all if you question what hair can do to a person’s game, then just ask this man:

Image result for kevin malone hair gif

Yes, right now we are going to look into Kevin Malone from The Office and see what it did for his game. We know ‘his game’ that we are talking about isn’t playing basketball, but rather, picking up women. As you should know, picking up women is surely a game, and one that Kevin Malone was not really good at.

The one quintessential episode where we see Kevin Malone wearing the toupee is Jim and Pam’s wedding. If you remember the end of the episode, Kevin said he was able to pick up 7 numbers, so close to a full phone number. Sure, it wasn’t a full one, but for Kevin, that’s pretty darn good!


Kevin Malone Tissue Box Shoes Dance

Now that we have proved that hair is CLEARLY important to a man, let’s get back to this particular case.

Trae Young has, how do we put this delicately, unfortunate hair. Apparently it’s never been a problem for Trae though who, believe it or not, was actually asked about it a while ago:

“My hair is different than a lot of people’s. I like my hair. I like the fade. I like the little design I have. I’m cool with it. Obviously my hair is thin on top, so it looks like a bald spot, but I really could care less. If that’s what makes them sleep good at night … I’m cool. I’m sleeping good.”

This should just end the conversation, right? Trae is happy with his hair and while it might bother some people to not have the most perfect hair, it clearly doesn’t to Trae. And who are we to judge?

This will be the first theory that we can officially debunk.



The case of the Migos curse

This case comes to us from our very own BJ Boyer:

“He’s cursed by Quavo/The Migos. As their endorsement of him got louder, his play got worse.

As you should know, Migos is a giant piece in modern Hip-Hop. Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff make up the group from Atlanta. All three of them are directly related and are very much relevant figure heads in Atlanta today.

Migos gave the Hawks their blessing to draft Trae Young this summer when Quavo tweeted:

If there is any truth to this curse, we would have to go back to see who else Quavo and any of the Migos for that matter have given their endorsement to.

Dennis Schroder seems to be the last Hawks player that Quavo went all out to support. During a game last year, when Schroder went for 33 points, in his post-game interview he said that Quavo gave him a call and said that he needed to go for 30 since he was going to be at the game. It would seem like Quavo was actually good for the Hawks in this particular case so it’s hard to justify that there’s such a curse. Then again, Dennis Schroder was traded just a few months later. Coincidence? Hard to tell.

But, if there is any damning evidence on Trae Young having a curse from Migos it would be this picture that Trae posted on Instagram:

February 8th is the date on that picture. That was just 12 days after the game Trae had against Alabama. Since the date the picture was taken, Trae Young’s teams have a combined record of 4-14 while he has shot 36.6% from the field. (That includes the rest of his time at Oklahoma, Summer League, Preseason, and Regular Season NBA action) Before that, he had a record of 16-7 with a 44.8 FG%. And, to top it off, he has not had one game with 10+ field goals made since the picture with Migos was taken.

Does the Migos curse actually exist?



The case of pressure

Now, we will finish up with the final case study and this one’s the big one. (Maybe not, that Migos curse looked a lot more real than we had thought)


Every single NBA player deals with it when coming into the league and Trae Young was hardly an exception. He had the most pressure out of every player drafted and there are so many reasons why with the main one being the fact that he continued to be compared to Steph Curry. That is quite an unfair comparison for a 19 year old. This was someone who was not used to the hype whatsoever:

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would become a constant topic for national television and radio shows — never mind mentioned by some of the country’s most respected journalists.”

So he went from being a small point guard from Texas to being compared to Steph Curry. That’s beyond crazy, not everyone can handle that pressure. We aren’t saying that Trae can’t handle the pressure, but it’s perfectly reasonable that he’s just taking time to completely adjust to this new life he has. He is the complete face of Atlanta basketball now. This is a city that is starving for good basketball and immediately named Trae Young their savior before he even got to the city.

The Atlanta Hawks are just now finishing up their new renovations on State Farm Arena and it’s supposed to be fantastic. This young guard hasn’t even played at his home court yet and is going to be asked to lead this team to the promised land. If he’s not able to cope with the pressure, that is fine. We can understand that.


Was all of this truly just pressure that was put on Young’s shoulders? Maybe there truly is a Migos curse or Jevon Carter and Collin Sexton got in his head and he hasn’t fully been able to recover. Maybe it’s a combination of all of them.

We will leave it up to you to decide what’s going on with Trae Young. But, we will say this..

Trae Young is a phenomenal basketball player and we fully expect him to get his groove back shooting the ball. He’s already proved to us in the NBA that his passing and court vision is fantastic. Hopefully, whatever is preventing Trae to return to his old form will soon go away because the city of Atlanta is ready for him to takeoff (PUN INTENDED).


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