Trae Young is a fascinating player to watch play the game of basketball. However, even though Phoenix Suns could have drafted him last year, they are probably better without him.
With Deandre Ayton continuing to serve his 25-game suspension for testing positive for a diuretic, and Luka Doncic playing like he might be a generational superstar, some Phoenix Suns fans are wondering what would have happened if the Suns selected Luka over Deandre with the first overall pick in last year’s draft.
However, had the ping-pong balls bounced slightly differently, or if the Suns’ front office chose to trade down their first overall pick, they could have been in line to draft Trae Young, who went 5th overall to the Atlanta Hawks.
Don’t worry. There are no trade rumors here.
But with the Hawks having just made their sole visit to Talking Stick Resort Arena for the year, it is hard not to wonder what would have happened if the Suns ended up with Young and his, um, unique style of play.
The answer is: not in a good place.
First off, Trae Young is fascinating to watch. Truly.
From a skill set alone, his handles rank near the top of the league, and his bucket-getting ability rivals anyone out there. However, it is his Harlem Globetrotter-esque flare that really attracts eyeballs.
It reminds me of a quote about Howard Stern during his rise to fame in the 90s, and I’m paraphrasing here: “People who love Howard Stern listen because they want to see what he’ll say next and the people hate him listen because…they want to see what he’ll say next.”
People who love and hate Trae young watch him because they want to see what he’ll do next.
Against the Suns Thursday night, in a play that will likely remain on highlight reels for quite a while, Young dribbled through Ricky Rubio‘s legs near half court and finished the drive for an and-one.
It was both unnecessary and amazing to watch, and likely made all fans, regardless of allegiance, stand up and utter their favorite in-awe interjection.
It is understandable why some fans might want a player with the guts to do something like that (and pull it off) on their team. But with that flare, also comes turnovers when those flashy plays don’t work and random 35-foot 3-pointers with 20 seconds left in the shot clock.
In fact, Trae Young led the league in shots over 30-feet last year with 24 makes. But in order to make that many, you have to shoot a lot more. He actually shot 69 of them, and while I didn’t watch every Hawks game last year, I would bet the vast majority of them were not half-court buzzer-beater heaves.
There were three times in the game against the Suns, where he shot an unnecessarily long shot just for the sake of it.
I don’t care how good you are at shooting from that range, that is simply not a good basketball play. It just isn’t.
When he isn’t trying to add to this YouTube mixtape compilation, Trae Young loves to drive to the basket, another skill at which he is undeniably proficient.
However, there were many drives against the Suns when he seemed to drive for the sake of getting around his defender, but had no real plan of what to do with the ball once he made it to the paint. Sometimes, he would just dribble right back out and start over.
This kind of ball-dominate play has to disengage teammates over time.
I know. I know. How can I call a man averaging nearly 10 assists per game and put up 13 assists against the Suns a ball hog? When he does pass, he is really good at it. The issue is, he doesn’t do it a lot.
It also doesn’t often lead to winning basketball, and the same was true when he was in college at Oklahoma, leading the Sooners to a mediocre 18-14 season.
Monty Williams has brought a lot of positives to the Valley, but most notably he has brought team basketball. The Suns lead the league in assists per game, and that is not because Ricky Rubio alone is dishing out all of them.
Having a player like Young, who needs the ball in his hands as much as he does to be successful, would not mesh with Monty Williams’ 0.5 system.
He would also likely drastically reduce Devin Booker‘s scoring average, because many of Young’s assists come on drives to the basket and dishes to a nearby big man.
Don’t get me wrong. Trae Young is an amazing young talent and he is continuing to grow and excel at his craft. I will be the first to play his aforementioned YouTube mix tape on repeat at the end of his likely very long career.
But with all the Luka-envy whispers, it felt justified to call out another electric player drafted close behind as someone who the Phoenix Suns are better without.
Finally, I fully acknowledge this is a large step in my aging process. Old farts spouting, “He doesn’t play the game the right way!” is a take I have made fun of my entire life. I just…
Hang on. I have end it here. There are teenagers on my lawn, and I have to go yell at them.