Atlanta Hawks rookie sharpshooter Trae Young has received countless comparisons to Golden State Warriors superstar guard Stephen Curry.
Young, 19, had one of the most electrifying seasons we’ve seen from a collegiate freshman and seemed to poised to carry his three-point dominance into the NBA, just as Curry did. It’s a fair comparison, in some ways, especially now that he is on the Hawks. Atlanta’s general manager Travis Schlenk was also very instrumental in helping Curry’s development.
But according to Young, who was a consensus first-team All-American last season for Oklahoma, Curry is not the player whom he models his game after (via 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.”
Even though he led the NCAA in points and three-point field goals last year, it’s particularly noteworthy to mention he led all collegiate players in assists per game, too. That’s no small feat and has led other experts like Andrew Sharp to compare Young to Nash, a two-time NBA MVP, as well.
One could argue Young’s assist percentage (48.6 percent) was his most dominant statistic in the NCAA. Since 2009-10, only four other players besides Young have boasted an assist percentage above 48.0 percent and none of them played in a Power Five Conference.
Young currently ranks Top 5 among all players in summer league in assists per game (6.8) and also falls in Top 10 for assist percentage (38.8 percent) among qualified participants. Even though he got off to a rough start, those are impressive numbers.
This early into his career, it’s hard to assess where Young will fall in the spectrum of NBA point guards. Atlanta will likely create a big role for him in the offense next season, but the team recently acquired Jeremy Lin and still has point guard Dennis Schroder on the team as well.
There have been many other players who were excellent shooters in college who didn’t translate as well to the next level. Just look at former lottery pick Jimmer Fredette, who played around five seasons in the NBA before taking his talents to China.
Perhaps the biggest difference between Fredette and Young, besides Young’s ability to play the NBA-style pick-and-roll offense, is his court vision. While we don’t yet know if Young’s passing will be on the same level as Nash’s, his head coach Lloyd Pierce recently tempered expectations a bit by comparing Young to another floor general: Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley.