Summer League is over for the Atlanta Hawks and that means that the nightly evaluation of Trae Young will slow until training camp begins. At the height of hysteria in Salt Lake City, “bust” evaluations were flying everywhere but, by the end of the run in Las Vegas, fans were able to see at least glimpses of what the Hawks envisioned for Young when tabbing him with a top-five pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Since before drafting Young, though, many people have tried to find the perfect comparison for the former Oklahoma Star and a lot of the evaluations centered on Steph Curry. While that was (always) unfair, Young has repeatedly referenced Steve Nash as a role model and he did so again this week in an interview with Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports.
“I try to be Steve Nash more than Steph. I do blend Nash and Steph a lot, but my favorite player growing up was Steve Nash. I get a lot of Steph comparisons, and I agree I do have a few attributes that are similar to Steph. But Steve Nash is a Hall of Famer, though, and Steph will be one day, too. I know I always have to show and prove my passing ability. I have to get better on that aspect, and I definitely work on that a lot.”
There are ties to Nash in the Hawks organization, with Lloyd Pierce playing alongside the Hall of Fame point guard in college and Travis Schlenk enjoying a relationship with Nash when the two crossed paths in Oakland. Beyond, Young’s game profiles more like Nash’s at this stage, particularly in the sense that Curry has always been a dynamic off-ball player, while Young has quite of a bit of growth to incur in that area.
Passing is perhaps Young’s best trait at the moment and I write that as someone who firmly believes Young could be an elite shooter at the NBA level. With that said, his shot selection will be the swing skill in that department, whereas his passing and vision already play up at a high level.
Within the same interview, Young discussed the outside pressures and what Summer League showed him.
“I shoot my shots, and sometimes they’re going to go in, sometimes they’re not. I live with that. Everyone on the outside might come down on me, but I put in the reps so I’m confident every time I shoot.”
“This Summer League has been a good test for me to stay focused, a good test to make sure that I keep a good mindset. It’s a test and I have to continue to handle it well. I want to be the face of us continuing to grow as a team and rise as a franchise.”
Without further on-court data to analyze between now and October, Summer League will likely marinate in the minds of many. There were high points, low points and run-of-the-mill moments during Young’s run on the floor but, in the end, his strengths were able to shine through, his weaknesses were present and he is willing to tell anyone who will listen that Steve Nash, not Steph Curry, appears to be the role model for his game.