The careers of the Mavericks’ Luka Doncic and Hawks’ Trae Young will be forever linked.
They were traded for each other, with the Hawks receiving an additional first-round pick in a draft-night deal that allowed Dallas to move up two notches.
Initially, the Mavericks looked like they had fleeced the Hawks. Doncic, who had been playing at the highest level of competition in Europe for years, made an immediate impact while Young struggled with his shooting and turnovers during the first half of last season.
Perceptions quickly changed when Young grew more comfortable with the NBA game. After averaging 16.9 PPG, 7.6 APG and 3.9 TPG while shooting 31.2% from long range, Young sliced up defenders after the All-Star break to the tune of 24.7 PPG, 9.2 APG and 34.8% shooting beyond the arc while reducing his turnovers (3.4).
Young came up short in the Rookie of the Year voting to Doncic but it was clear that both teams had franchise players on their hands.
During the early going this season, they have seemingly upped the ante. Now partnered with a healthy Kristaps Porzingis, Doncic has averaged 25.0 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 6.8 APG and 2.0 SPG, an increase in each category from his final totals last season (21.4/7.9/6.0/1.1). Dallas is off to a 3-1 start and has the look of a playoff contender.
In Young’s first two games this season, he spoiled the Pistons’ home opener with a 39-point, seven-rebound, nine-assist performance, then posted nearly identical numbers against the Magic in another Hawks victory (38 points, seven rebounds, nine assists). He suffered a minor ankle sprain in the team’s fourth game but should be back soon.
Young’s speed, ankle-breaking moves and unlimited shooting range, a la Stephen Curry, make him a nightmare for defenders. Doncic’s guile, creativity and sneaky athleticism, a la James Harden, provide a different set of headaches for opponents.
Safe to say, both franchises are thrilled with the player they wound up with last June.
That brings us to our question of the day: If you were starting a franchise, which young floor leader would you choose — Luka Doncic and Trae Young — and why?
Please take to the comments section to voice your opinion. We look forward to what you have to say.