The Trae Young hype train lost some momentum down the stretch, but nevertheless, it carried the 19-year-old sharpshooter to the NBA Draft after just one season with the Oklahoma Sooners.
After shooting out of the gates and quickly emerging as the nation’s leading scorer and dime-dropper, Young struggled from the field throughout Big 12, and thus, Oklahoma dropped 12 of its last 16 games, including a first round NCAA Tournament exit against Rhode Island. Such a slump sparked its fair share of questions regarding Young’s NBA readiness, but in that same light, a freshman averaging 27.4 points and 8.7 assists, despite the struggles, is quite simply remarkable.
Not to mention, Young’s efforts en route to those averages drew comparisons to Stephen Curry, a two-time NBA MVP and quite arguably the greatest shooter in the sport’s history.
With that in mind, the glaring question going forward is this: Does the reward of potentially drafting the closest thing to Curry outweigh Young struggling throughout much of the second half of the season?
How Young performs in pre-draft meetings and workout will go a long way towards answering that in the minds of NBA decision-makers, but for now, Young is projected as a top 10 pick, as seen with Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo, who slots Young No. 8 overall to the Chicago Bulls.
“Although Kris Dunn took a step forward for the Bulls this season, Young would bring a different level of playmaking and perimeter scoring that makes sense to add to the backcourt mix,” Woo said. “His highs and lows were well-documented this season, but his talent is enticing enough that he probably shouldn’t slip too far.”
“The Bulls’ athletic, perimeter-oriented core guys could benefit from playing off a passer like Young, and he wouldn’t be overburdened with a huge scoring load in turn. His upside should be a reasonable gamble.”
A high-volume offensive weapon known for his sharpshooting touch, Young shot 36 percent on 328 three-point attempts as a freshman. As a result of that effort, and of course, Young’s 27.4 points and 8.7 assists per game, Young finished as a consensus First-Feam All-American, a First-Team All-Big 12 selection, the Big 12 Freshman of the Year, and the Wayman Tisdale Award recipient.
As Young’s lengthy list of awards and honors indicates, he was nothing short of a special talent at the collegiate level.
In hopes of becoming a top 10 pick, Young will now spend the coming months persuading franchises such as the Bulls that his NBA future can look more the part of how his collegiate career started, as opposed to how it ended.