The controversial trade during the 2018 NBA Draft involving Trae Young and Luka Doncic would associate the two highly-touted point guards for the rest of their NBA careers. There’s been a constant microscope on both of them in comparison with each other, and they’ve done nothing but live up to the hype and defy odds.
On draft night, the Atlanta Hawks selected Luke Doncic with the third selection. The Dallas Mavericks selected Trae Young fifth overall. The two teams swapped Doncic and Young. It was simple, Dallas felt Doncic was better for the Mavericks than Young would be and vice-versa, which turned out to be true for both organizations.
Since then, Doncic has solidified himself as the biggest star since Dirk Nowitzki, and maybe more significant, already putting up record numbers in the franchise and NBA ranks, averaging 27.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 8.6 assists in his third season. Also, his playoff career has gotten off to a gleaming start, averaging 31.9 points, 8.5 assists, and 9.1 rebounds per game, including three triple-doubles.
Doncic and Michael Jordan are the only two players to average 30 or more points through their first ten playoff games.
As for Young, he’s turned out better than many thought he’d be this early in his career. While Doncic was considered an NBA-ready point guard from the jump, Trae was deemed talented but undersized (6-foot-2ish, 170 pounds) and would take a while to develop. While Young’s still smaller than 95 percent of the league, he’s making an impact few point guards in the league’s history have, just like Doncic.
In Young’s third season, he’s averaging 25.3 points, 9.4 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game. He also just turned his first playoff experience against the New York Knicks into one of the most disrespectfully dominant performances of all time, silencing the few doubters he still had after averaging 29.2 points, 9.8 assists, and 2.8 rebounds per game.
Michael Jordan was the only other player to record three 30-point playoff games against the Knicks in Madison Square Garden before Young came around.
And just like Jordan, Young did it with ultimate swagger, trading banter with Spike Lee and others, getting spat on by fans, and listening to “f–k you Trae Young” throughout. However, the kid from Norman, OK, wasn’t shaken. He elevated his game to a level that only a few knew he could reach while ousting the Knicks in their best season in a decade.
Both Doncic and Young have entered the two largest markets in the league, Los Angeles and New York, and dominated. Doncic has had the better individual career, but Young, as of now, has gotten his team to the Eastern Conference Semis earlier than most projected.
In an NBA world where everything and every player seems to compete with one another (as it should be, it’s sports), it’s safe to say that Doncic and Young have satisfied their franchise’s needs, and prematurely at that. The 2018 NBA Draft gifted both the Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks with cornerstone pieces for the foreseeable future.
Now, it’s not up to Doncic and Young. Each franchise must put the correct pieces around its star to compete for a championship. The Hawks seem to be well on their way, with a solid supporting cast around Young and John Collins. The Mavericks lack depth, and at times, it looks as if Doncic has to carry the team to victory, much like he did through the majority of Game 5.
Regardless, there’s a bright future for both franchises, and it’s thanks to the two that sparked so much drama in the NBA Draft.