Who Wins the Hawks-Mavs Swap of Luka Doncic and Trae Young?
Basketball fans know that something super interesting is going to go down during the NBA Draft basically every year, and 2018 was no different. With the first night of the 2018 NBA Draft in the books, teams have selected the players who they hope can be the future of their franchise, and none did it in quite so exciting a fashion as the Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks.
With the Suns taking Deandre Ayton first overall as expected and the Kings going with Marvin Bagley III with the second pick, the Hawks snagged Slovenian guard Luka Doncic with the third selection in the draft. Atlanta was immediately called up by the Mavericks, who offered them the draft rights to guard Trae Young at pick number 5 and a protected first-round pick for the 2019 draft, a deal which the Hawks readily accepted. With such a drastic move coming on draft night, one huge question looms in our minds: who won the trade?
Taking a European player always presents itself with quite a risk, as a vast majority of NBA players come with NCAA experience under their belts. It can be difficult to assume how a player could adapt from playing pro ball in Europe to the NBA, but Doncic seems as capable as anybody. The 6’8″ guard is a master playmaker with fantastic court vision and a solid scoring touch, a skillset which helped him become the EuroLeague’s youngest ever MVP at 19-years-old while playing for Real Madrid.
Doncic could not have ended up in a better place among the teams with the highest picks in the 2018 NBA Draft than in Dallas. He and Dennis Smith Jr are being looked upon to carry the Mavericks into the future, and both should meld seamlessly into Rick Carlisle’s playmaker-heavy offense. Also, Dallas knows how to evaluate foreign players, given the fact that they drafted and still have arguably the best European basketball player of all time in future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki, who could be an ideal mentor for the Slovenian rookie. Doncic has a ton of upside and is primed for stardom in the NBA.
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While it’s tough to nail down a perfect NBA comparison for Luka Doncic’s potential, there is one big, big name who comes to mind when looking at Trae Young: Stephen Curry. And when you’re being compared to one of the game’s great players, you know you have some serious upside. During his one year at Oklahoma, Young lit up the basketball world, scoring 27.4 points per game and dishing out 8.7 assists per game. When you translate those numbers from 40 minute NCAA games into 48 minute NBA games, you get 32.9 points per game and 10.4 assists per game. Wow.
Young is a masterful shooter and a terrific passer, arguably the best in this draft class when it comes to both of those skills, but there’s a level of uncertainty as to how well they can translate into the NBA. However, when Curry came into the league, he was deemed to small and not athletic enough to succeed at the NBA level, and look how that turned out. Young has had some attitude problems and his ability as a leader has come into question, but those are both things which can be worked out off the court.
Ultimately, Young’s ability to score massive amount of points and his court vision give him perhaps the highest ceiling of any player in this draft class, and his ability to make plays for other players helps keep his floor relatively high as well. However, it can be argued that Doncic’s ceiling is just as high, and his height and well-rounded approach to the game could allow him to succeed in the NBA immediately, while Young will likely need a bit of work first.
So, who actually won this trade? Well, there’s no wrong answer here. Doncic and Young both have massive upside and look primed to be stars in the NBA for years to come, so it seems as though both teams have their franchise players moving forward. However, I personally will have to give a slight edge to Doncic, as he’s more ready to succeed right away than young and his floor seems just a bit higher. Nonetheless, both of these guys will likely be a blast to watch for the next decade and a half.
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