Before Trae Young and Luka Dončić could step on the court for their first professional game, critics around were already prepared to compare their games. The trade on draft night didn’t make it any better, as all it did was add fuel to the fire.
Through the beginning of the season, the talk was all about Dončić and how he looks ready for the league already. The opposite was said for Trae as you could say he hit a rookie wall through November and December. People were ready to crown Dončić as the Rookie of the Year which was understandable at the time.
It was shortly after the All-Star break where things started to change. Since the break, Young has stepped up his level of play and gave many around the league something to talk about. Dončić has still been doing his regular thing, but all eyes have been on one person.
Some are still deemed to say Dončić is still the runaway rookie of the year, but the race is closer than people think.
Most valuable or more talented?
When we vote for the award of Most Valuable Player, the player who makes the most impact on their team usually gets the nod. Nobody has specifically pointed out how rookie of the year is accounted for, and this would be a good year to do so.
If we’re going by most valuable, Young definitely fits that criteria for the award. He’s second in the NBA in assists, which is the most ever by a rookie 20-years-old or younger.
You can just tell how much he affects the game when he’s on and off the court. The Hawks aren’t as effective when Young is on the bench, but when he comes back in everything changes.
Dončić seems to be the all-around most talented player between the two, but you could also make a case that Young could compete with him in that category with the arsenal of moves he has.
Not only is his playmaking at an elite level, but his shooting is what puts him apart of many. Comparing him to others in or that have been in the league, look at this stat:
Trae Young is averaging 19.0 PPG and 7.9 APG
Steve Nash and Jason Kidd NEVER averaged 19.0 PPG in a season during their CAREER!
Giving credit where it’s due
We know it’s going to be up to analysts and writers to make the vote for R.O.Y., but let’s not forget how the players have a voice as well. As Young puts up historic numbers as a rookie and go up against some of the top players in the league, the recognition has come along.
Players like Damian Lillard and Chris Paul have shown Young high praise after going up against him. Donovan Mitchell, Kyle Kuzma, and Blake Griffin came out on Twitter and gave their thoughts on the race as well.
These players have had to step on the same court as Young, so they know the impact and skill set he brings on the court every night.
What’s that famous saying?
“It’s not how you start, but how you finish.”
Many think the slump that Young had early in the season has completely wiped him out of the race, but it didn’t. With how impressive he’s been in the second half of the season, there’s no way that you can’t say it’s somewhat close now.
Yes, Dončić has shown consistent play this season, but he’s had a few hiccups this season as well. Not only that, but he’s missed a couple of games down this stretch of the season. Your best ability is your availability, and Young has shown that by not missing a game yet this season.
Young’s last couple of games has shown us that we can’t just look away from what he’s doing, and he should have an argument for R.O.Y. Let’s not forget to look at the bigger picture as well: Both of these rookies are playing at a high level for their team, and their play shouldn’t be downplayed at all.
You could go down the road of giving them co-R.O.Y., but what does that solve? This argument deserves to be put to rest, even though it could make for an even bigger storyline in both of their careers.
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