The skepticism didn’t really make much sense in the first place, and it probably still exists, somehow, in the minds of those fans and observers who don’t pay particularly close attention to the game. That’s the only explanation for why anyone who calls themselves a basketball fan would think Trae Young is anything less than one of the best point guards—and best offensive players, period—in the NBA today.
Even the doubters would acknowledge he’s one of the most dynamic and exciting young players in the League. He’s been that way since he first came onto the national radar in college, all quick drives and quicker releases and clutch plays and no shortage of flash. But it was never style over substance—that flash never came at the expense of his incredible scoring and creative abilities, or his evident will to win.
And really, it’s the same game he brought to Atlanta as a rookie in 2018. Skeptics could question his size or durability, and maybe that three-point percentage wasn’t quite elite just yet, but still, he was a Day 1 starter, and he averaged 19 points and 8 assists in just 31 minutes per game. Trae Young was a problem right out the gate.
And in the three seasons since? A shocking 29 and 9 in his second season, good for his first All-Star berth, and a mere 25 and 9 the year after that, and a near double-double—28.4 points and 9.7 assists per game, to be exact—in another All-Star season last year. When he’s rolling, which is often, Trae Young is pretty close to unstoppable.
For most fans, even the casual ones, the moment that established all this beyond a doubt came in June 2021. A deluge of buckets in a first-round, five-game dispatching of the New York Knicks in which Young scored 30-plus in all three of his games at Madison Square Garden. He shushed the raging MSG crowd, he let them know their boos weren’t loud enough, and finally, job done, he bowed. Love him or hate him, he left absolutely no doubt that night that like some of the game’s all-time greats before him, he was built to shine on the biggest stage.
He’s not playing for one of the League’s marquee franchises, and he hasn’t yet reached the heights of an NBA Finals appearance, but by every other measure of true superstar status, Trae Young is right there. He also possesses a level of everyman relatability that the rest of the new, star-studded Starting Lineup class lacks. At 6-1, 165, Young is the very rare player—let alone soon-to-be perennial All-Star and probably MVP candidate—who could blend in on most city streets. We bet that explains why the skeptics are still out there, the ones caught up in something other than a truly elite skill set and one of the most entertaining games on the planet.