Trae Young took college basketball by storm last season at Oklahoma. How would he potentially fit with the Knicks if they select him to run the point?
The 6’2″ point guard from Norman, O.K., burst onto the scene in a huge way in his freshman season as an Oklahoma Sooner and made a name for himself with his marksman-like shooting and incredible passing ability. Trae Young won the Big 12 Freshman of the Year award and was a consensus first team All-American, piling on 27.4 points and 8.7 assists per game with nearly four three-pointers and two steals to boot (per ESPN stats).
We all knew scoring was a strength of Young coming out of high school, but he vastly exceeded expectations in his one and only year in college. The 19-year-old put up 40+ points four times and carried a Sooners squad with underwhelming talent to the NCAA tournament where they were subsequently bounced in the first round by the Rhode Island Rams. Young was must see TV with his Steph Curry–like range and his ability to distribute the rock in a very entertaining fashion. Despite some struggles toward the backend of the season, Young was the best offensive guard in the NCAA throughout the year and propelled himself into an intriguing top-10 prospect who is undoubtedly NBA-ready.
When you think of Trae Young, the first thing that most of us think of is his STUPID range. Young dazzled all year with his long-range jumper and was a threat to score the second he passed half-court. Making shots from the parking lot was a norm for Trae, and his unlimited range bodes well for him with the NBA being a fast-paced, run-and-gun style of play with an emphasis on three-point shot. His long-range shooting also makes him a particularly good fit with the Knicks, who struggled from beyond the arc last season (plus they attempted the second-to-last triples in the league).
Young is also very crafty with his handles and can create his own shot off of the dribble with relative ease and use his dribble to extend plays. The point guard’s ability to find his spots in the mid-range game as well as get to the basket with his dribble are so underrated, which benefits him greatly even if his threes aren’t falling that day.
Often overshadowed by his shooting ability is Trae’s ability to pass the ball. In some cases, Young has unfairly gotten a bad rap for being a chucker, but in reality, he knows how to share the ball effectively. Young was always getting his teammates involved with his highlight-reel passes in transition and used his sensational court vision to find guys all over the floor. His maturity, focus, and ability to control the tempo of a game were the reasons Oklahoma wasn’t in the cellar of the Big 12. Trae sure knows how to thread the needle, and I would definitely trust him to be the floor general of my team.
Throw in his 86 percent free-throw shooting and his incredibly mature demeanor and you have yourself a complete point guard prospect offensively.
At 6’2″ and not very thick, Young’s size is a concern for potential GM’s looking to potentially make him their next backcourt leader. We’ve seen smaller point guards like Derrick Rose and Isaiah Thomas get ravaged by injuries and Trae shares a similar build to both of those guys. Young’s lack of size should’t be an issue from the perimeter, but at the rim it might be something that could limit his ability to be a complete offensive threat in the NBA. Young isn’t an explosive athlete either like a Kyrie Irving, who’s able to overcome his 6-2 build with his freakish athleticism to be an elite finisher.
Trae was also somewhat turnover prone at times in college, making questionable decisions with the ball and seemingly forcing plays early in the shot clock. The high turnover numbers can be attributed to his extraordinarily high usage rate, but he definitely needs to polish his game in that regard in order to be successful at the next level. Young had a lot of passes deflected and shots blocked due to his small stature and had difficulty navigating around bigger guards.
On the defensive end, Young was targeted by opposing coaches and was often exposed by quicker and more physical players. I wouldn’t call him a liability defensively…but he was far from impressive on that end of the floor in his time at Oklahoma. If Young is able to add more strength, improve his lateral quickness, and eliminate his ball-watching tendencies, he has the chance to be a halfway decent defender on the next level.
Alright, here comes the trepidatious section. One player who immediately comes to mind is Steph Curry. Trae Young is considered to be the best shooter in college basketball since Davidson’s Curry and shares plenty of the same qualities. Both of these guys are elite shooters and excellent passers but struggle on the defensive end of the floor. Curry is a much more efficient shooter who takes better care of the ball, but Young has the potential to cut down his turnovers and work on his productiveness. Obviously, Curry is a future Hall of Famer and the greatest shooter of all time…and Trae Young hasn’t proven anything yet, but their similar styles of play make for an appropriate juxtaposition, so calm down people.
If Young is able to be even 75 percent of the player that Curry is, he will be wildly successful in the NBA.
Another star guard who I see flashes of when I watch Trae Young is Kyrie Irving. Irving has a similar build to Young and both attack the rim in a similar fashion. Irving’s handles are the best I’ve seen and also is a lethal perimeter threat. Young’s strengths and Kyrie’s strengths pretty much mirror each other.
Fit With Knicks and Draft Availability
With New York officially selecting at nine, Trae Young is definitely in play to be picked by the ‘Bockers. Multiple sources have reported “mutual interest” between Young and the Knicks, and I would not be opposed to seeing him in a Knicks uniform.
New York is in desperate need of an offensive star in the backcourt who can also distribute the ball—and Young fits the bill. He would not only be a perfect complement to KP, being able to find him on the perimeter and slashing to the rim, he would also work well with Frank Ntilikina, whose strengths are defense and toughness, which Young surely lacks.
With newly-hired coach David Fizdale’s expected fast-paced, shoot-first offensive system, Young would be put in a perfect situation to succeed immediately and have a great opportunity to thrive in the future. Best believe Fizdale is highly interested with Young potentially running the show in New York next season.
Realistically, are there better fits for the Knicks? Sure. I would probably want Mikal Bridges, Michael Porter Jr., or possibly Collin Sexton over Young, but most Knicks fans would be absolutely thrilled with the entertaining and sharpshooting Trae Young delighting crowds in the Big Apple. He has the potential to be an instant fan favorite, just like we saw with Porzingis.