Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young has been one of the most polarizing basketball players in the country since he first laced up the sneakers at the University of Oklahoma.
Although Young drew praise for his tremendous playmaking and scoring ability, he was also criticized for his shot selection and carelessness with the ball. When the Sooners collapsed in conference play and lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, there were questions about Young’s leadership and attitude.
Despite getting off to a slow start in his rookie campaign, Young soon laid all doubts to rest. He led all rookies in assists per game (8.1) while also ranking second in scoring and tallying a number of triple-doubles. In fact, Young nearly stole Rookie of the Year away from Dallas Mavericks wing Luka Doncic.
Heading into his second season, Young finds himself in an enviable position. He has already become the leader of a youthful and talented group of players who look to have as promising a future as any other team in the NBA.
Here are three bold expectations for Trae Young in the 2019-20 NBA season.
3. Double-double average in scoring, assists
Trae Young ranked tied for 22nd in terms of total double-doubles last season, but he also led all players in terms of double-doubles with points and assists.
After averaging over 19 points and eight dimes during his rookie campaign, there is no reason to believe that Young cannot average a double-double in points and assists over the course of a full season.
Young nearly posted double-double averages in February and March, and he only figures to grow more comfortable running the point for the Hawks. Plus, he has more outside shooters on the roster with De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish joining the fray.
Early in the season, teams would force Young to shoot from the perimeter. As he grew more comfortable in the pick-and-roll and expanded his range, however, Young became a more versatile playmaker both for himself and for his teammates. Look for him to top 20 points and 10 assists per game this year.
2. First All-Star nod
Had Trae Young performed as well as he did during the first part of the season as he did over the course of the final three months, he almost certainly would have garnered All-Star attention.
Remember, despite the new format where All-Star captains pick their teammates, the process of selecting players for the All-Star Game remains the same: 12 players from each conference, with the head coaches voting on the reserves.
Young stands an excellent chance at making the All-Star team, particularly in a weak Eastern Conference that has a relative shortage of star power at the point guard position. If the Hawks are competing for a playoff spot in February, it will be hard to argue that Young does not deserve a spot on the team.
Of course, Young still has to put up numbers. But if he is indeed averaging a double-double and showing some improvement on the defensive side of the ball, he should have no problem making his case.
1. All-NBA team?
Making an All-NBA team is probably the highest individual accolade a player can receive outside of being named the actual MVP of the league.
Now, Trae Young is certainly not one of the 15 best players in the NBA heading into the 2019-20 season, and he is not among the top six guards in the league, either. However, he could absolutely string together a season worthy of All-NBA recognition.
Consider that Kemba Walker made the All-NBA Third Team on a 39-win Charlotte Hornets team last season, and Young could put up better numbers than Walker. Of course, Young will also have to contend with the likes of Bradley Beal (who was snubbed this past season), but the landscape is more wide open.
Should Young play at an All-Star level and lead a Hawks team that arrives well ahead of schedule, he might be named to one of the All-NBA teams in the 2019-20 NBA season.