Atlanta Hawks: Where does Trae Young rank among starting PGs?

Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

Heading into his third year in the league, Trae Young is already forcing his name into the premier point guard conversation; here’s how he stacks up against other PGs in the league.

Atlanta Hawks Point Guard Trae Young has taken the NBA by storm in his first two years in the league. When the Hawks traded for Young on draft night, many Atlanta fans didn’t know if his scoring ability would translate from college to the big stage, but boy, has it ever.

As he preps for year three, Young has forced us all to think about him when the topic of conversation is best point guards in the league. Let’s take a closer look at exactly where Trae Young should be mentioned in that context.

Trae Young’s strengths

The first thing that should stand out to you when watching Trae Young play is his natural ability to score the basketball. At just 6-1, Young’s craftiness and ability to break down defenses is already at an elite level. Averaging 29.6 points per game on .437/.361/.860 shooting splits Young finished fourth in the league in scoring behind the likes of James Harden, Bradley Beal, and Damian Lillard.

If his scoring doesn’t automatically put you on the Trae Young bandwagon, his passing ability most certainly will. Trae Young is easily one of the most gifted passers in the league and now has a plethora of scorers surrounding him, all of which will be beneficiaries of his innate ability to create shots for others. Young found a way to average 9.3 assists last year while the Hawks were one of the worst shooting teams in the entire NBA.

His glaring weakness

It’s no secret that defense is not a strong suit for Trae Young. He’s undersized and exerts the majority of his energy and effort getting buckets on the other end of the floor. That’s still no excuse for the poor defense on Young’s part, a performance that has him ranked amongst the worst in the league defensively.

In the context of the point guard conversation, it’s hard to say how much credence we should give to Trae’s defensive woes, given that defense has become somewhat of an afterthought in the NBA overall, and that other point guards considered to be the best in the league aren’t superb defenders either.

Atlanta Hawks
Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

Is Trae Young a top 5 point guard?

Finishing in the top five in both scoring and assists at the point guard position would typically be automatic grounds for putting Trae Young in the top 5 discussion, right?

Not necessarily.

The NBA is full of great talent at the point guard position, and as non-traditional PGs become more of a thing in the league, it’s always great to see a player like Trae Young be as good at passing as he is at scoring. So, if Trae is finishing top 5 in those categories, who are the other PGs considered better than him?

This writer says that Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, Luka Doncic, Chris Paul, and a healthy Kyrie Irving should all be mentioned before Trae Young. Other fringe names might be Kemba Walker and Russell Westbrook but I believe that Trae Young is already a better scorer and passer than both of those guys. Given that only of the guys I mentioned before him has ever been considered an elite defender at that position, I have Trae currently ranked 6th amongst starting PGs.

Steph, Dame, Kyrie, Chris Paul, and now Luka Doncic have all proven their value on the playoff stage where Trae hasn’t yet been. Should Trae perform at the level he has the past two years and the Atlanta Hawks sneak into the playoffs, we’ll all have to consider boosting Trae Young’s rank amongst the best.

In my opinion, he’s not far off. I give it another year.

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