Trae Young’s performance in Summer League produced reactions from every corner of the NBA world. His shooting struggles in Utah were well documented and, of course, Young’s overall performance improved greatly in Las Vegas, particularly as his jumper began to fall.
However, the constant throughout the two leagues was the presence of his play-making vision and passing. For those paying close attention to Young in advance of the 2018 NBA Draft, it comes as no surprise that Young is a high-level passer but Brad Botkin of CBS Sports caught up with Travis Schlenk in Vegas for an interesting interview on that particular topic.
At the center was the notion that the Hawks believe Young’s “best asset today” happens to be his passing.
“He blew up and got national recognition because of the shooting, but to us, his best asset today is his passing. You just don’t see kids his age who can run pick and roll so naturally, who can make plays and find guys on the move with both their left and right hand. He’s got a great feel for the court, and summer league can only show so much of that. When he has NBA players all around him, its going to open up the court so much more for him.”
For the record, this is something I wholeheartedly agree with. Young does have a potentially special ability as a (deep) three-point shooter but, at least for now, that is more of a theoretical than an actual. Make no mistake, he absolutely projects as a plus shooter at the NBA level but he’ll need to improve drastically in moving away from the ball and his shot selection is an active work in progress.
As a passer and play-maker, though, Young is already quite advanced. Schlenk notes his maturity as a pick-and-roll ball-handler and there were legitimately inspiring moments in that regard during Summer League.
The CBS Sports piece notes that both Schlenk and head coach Lloyd Pierce indicated Young will “have the same green light in Atlanta” and, as such, there will be some growing pains in the area of scoring. With that said, he was one of the best passers in Summer League (if not the best) and that should help to greatly aid in his early development.
It seems as if Young is ahead of the curve, declaring that he wants to “be Steve Nash more than Steph (Curry)” and his general manager appears to agree. There will be plenty of time for evaluation and close inspection when the season opens in October but, for now, the near-consensus around the league is that Young is a superior distributor at this juncture than he is as a scorer and shooter.