Trae Young: Steph Curry or Brandon Jennings?


Leading up to the 2018 NBA draft, Trae Young was the subject of one of the most heated prospect debates of all time. After what was a phenomenal freshman season at Oklahoma University, many were skeptical Trae Young could carry his electric but often erratic playing style into the NBA. Some scouts suggested he could be likened to a young Steph Curry, while others doubted Young’s play-style would carry over suggesting he could be one of the most likely busts in recent NBA history. 29 games into his NBA career, it seems we have an answer: Trae Young won’t be a bust, but he is a lot more Brandon Jennings than he is Steph Curry.

The Hawks might end up regretting their draft night trade that saw them trade the draft rights of rookie phenom, Luca Doncic, for Trae Young and a 2019 first round pick. Trae Young has shown flashes of elite point guard play but overall the results have been slightly disappointing. The Hawks hoped they were receiving the next Steph Curry, but so far what they have received is a player shooting 38% from the field and 24% from the three-point line.

Trae Young’s 24% from the 3-point line ranks last amongst all qualified players.

His field goal percentage of 38% ranks 126th of 127 eligible players.

Young’s assist to turnover ratio ranks in the bottom 10 of all point guards.

However, this is the same player that has recorded multiple games with at least 20 points and 10 assists, went for 35 and 11 in his third NBA game, and has had two games of at least 15 assists. Young has certainly shown flashes, but his overall play resembles that of a young Brandon Jennings.

Rookie Brandon Jennings scored 55 points to become the youngest player to ever reach that scoring threshold in a game that ironically saw rookie Steph Curry come off the bench for the Warriors in what was the seventh game of their respective careers. However, Steph Curry would develop into a 2-time MVP, while Jennings’ erratic play would limit him from ever becoming a star. 

As of now, Trae Young is more Brandon Jennings than Steph Curry.

Trae Young and rookie Brandon Jennings have nearly identical averages. Steph Curry was a much better shooter than either of the two and it shows with far superior shooting averages. What Trae Young has going for him is that he shoots well within the perimeter at 46%. It’s once he steps outside the arc that things become problematic, and as a result it casts a dark shadow over his overall contribution. Trae Young’s win share, which takes a player’s overall contribution into account, is on pace to be the second worst in NBA history.

This is no condemnation of Trae Young’s play because he has been impressive at times given what he has had to work it. The key going forward will be the improvements Trae Young makes to his game. Steph Curry was able to improve his game each offseason, while Brandon Jennings never quite improved and is currently out of the NBA. 

As Trae Young said, he is no Steph Curry . . . but he will need to make some of the same improvements.

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