Trae Young’s first five games of summer play have raised an intriguing possibility: What if the No. 5 pick in this year’s NBA draft is better as a passer than a shooter?
Yes, Young led the NCAA in both scoring and assists during his lone season at Oklahoma. However, it was his 30-foot 3s off the dribble that caught the nation’s attention more so than Young’s work distributing to an unheralded set of Sooners teammates. So it has been somewhat surprising that Young has found far more success as a playmaker than a scorer so far in the NBA, first at the Utah Jazz Summer League and now at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.nfl nike jerseys cheap china
During Saturday’s 21-point effort against the New York Knicks, his highest-scoring game this summer, Young finally saw a few of those long 3s off the dribble go down. For the most part, they haven’t fallen — or sometimes haven’t even caught rim. Young has shot 6-of-35 (17 percent) on 3s in this span, most of them long and heavily contested.
As I noted in last summer’s study on the meaning of summer-league stats, shooting percentages have little if any predictive power when it comes to how players will perform the following regular season. The samples are simply too small. However, the quality of the shots Young is taking hasn’t been any better than the results, suggesting his low-percentage shooting is more than just a fluke.
The same has been true for Young inside the arc, where he has been only slightly more accurate (10-of-31, 32 percent). At 6-foot-2, Young always has to finish over bigger defenders in the paint, and he struggled in that regard even against college opposition. Young’s 53.5 percent shooting on attempts at the rim was lowest among NCAA players drafted in this year’s first round, per Hoop-Math.com research.
While Young made an impressive reverse finish headed away from the basket in Utah, for the most part he hasn’t even tried to challenge rim protectors. Instead, Young has turned to a low-percentage floater that he will need to improve dramatically to have any chance of shooting a decent percentage on 2-point tries early in his career.
A fast break during the final minute of Saturday’s game was illustrative of Young’s limitations and how he can work around them. With the Hawks trailing 85-80, Young forced a turnover near midcourt and headed toward the basket with a defender charging after him. Instead of attempting the layup, Young dropped a pass off to teammate Antonius Cleveland for a dunk.
Young has managed to draw enough defensive attention out of the pick-and-roll to set up teammates for open looks on a regular basis, displaying excellent court vision. He averaged 6.0 assists in his four full games, including 11 against the Knicks, and easily could have had more with better shooters around him. (Whether Atlanta’s real roster will provide better shooting remains open for debate.)cheap nike nfl jerseys from china
In the first half of Sunday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, before he was shut down for precautionary reasons because of a quad contusion, Young focused largely on playmaking. Hounded by bigger defender Wade Baldwin, Young attempted only two shots and handed out three assists in the nine minutes he played.