Give me LaMelo Ball over Trae Young

PHOTO | ASHLEY MAHONEY

When a General Manager has a top-five pick in the NBA Draft and picks a Point Guard, what is the GM looking for? 

A point guard who’s : 

  1. The Quarterback of the offense 
  2. IQ is off the charts
  3. Ability to make his teammates phenomenally better 
  4. Can score and defend

Let’s remember these 4 points. 

It’s sad watching what today’s NBA has come to. It’s definitely entertaining, but it’s not basketball. The amount of Iso’s and ball-dominant possessions has made it almost impossible to find a true point guard in today’s game. The Magic Johnsons, John Stocktons, Isaiah Thomas‘ and Oscar Robertsons are nowhere to be found in today’s game. A true point guard knows when, where, and how to get their teammates involved. Allowing players to catch a rhythm, gain confidence, and build strong team chemistry. The point guard’s role is to be the Quarterback of the offense and maximize their teammates’ potential through their own play.

In today’s game, our point guards like Trae Young are bombing threes while there’s no motion in an offense leaving their teammates stagnant, watching a one-man show as if they are not even on the court. True point guards are the opposite. We create plays for our teammates through passing and motion. Magic Johnson didn’t average one three-point attempt in his first nine seasons the best point guard of all-time! Hence, to be a successful point guard, you don’t have to be a three-point specialist.

Arguments against Trae 

When looking at Trae Young’s defensive skills, it becomes surprising if opponents do not pick on him. According to ESPN, Young was ranked dead last out of 520 players two straight years in the stat DRPM. (DRPM: Player’s estimated on-court impact on team defensive performance, measured in points allowed per 100 defensive possessions.) His rookie year was -5.05, and his following year was worse with -6.17. Given Young is 6″ 1, 180 pounds, there is no room for error on the defensive side. Whether opponents create mismatches on Young or simply isolate him on defense, the Hawks will always have problems on the defensive side when Young is on the floor. 

On the offensive side, everyone thinks of his shooting. Pulling up from the logo, contested three-pointers, and fade-away shots. His shooting ability is remarkable, but is he efficient? The answer is no. Let’s take a look. 

Stephen Curry Comparison

When called a “baby Steph Curry,” it’s insulting to Curry when you compare him to someone who doesn’t shoot at least 40 percent from three. In Young’s first two seasons, Trae shot an ugly 32 percent from three and then 36 percent. Players like Collin Sexton and Jaylen Brown had a higher three-point percentage in their last two seasons. In Curry’s 10 seasons, not once has he shot less than 41 percent from the 3 point line. Also, Curry has never averaged 4 turnovers a game in ten seasons, while Trae has averaged 4.2 turnovers his first season and 4.8 this past season. Not to mention 4.8 turnovers were the league’s worst. Comparing Trae Young to Stephen Curry is blasphemous. Young is simply not an efficient point guard when shooting a low thirty percent from three with 4.8 turnovers a game. 

Selfish Play-Style

When Trae is taking 20 shots a game in his 2019 season, excluding his 9 free throws, it caps his teammates’ potential. Young is so ball-dominant and shoots so many times it’s nearly impossible for a player to mesh with him unless you’re strictly a catch and shoot type of player. We see this from the Hawks drafting a catch and shoot player Kevin Huerter six selections after picking Trae Young in the 2018 draft. Additionally, to make up for Trae’s inexcusable defense, the Hawks sign Rajon Rondo, a defensive pest. Unfortunately, because of Trae’s selfish playstyle, we have yet to see the best of Cam Reddish and won’t until he finds another team. Cam is an athletic player who can create his own shot and drive to the rack, not just a spot-up shooter in the corner fitting Trae’s game. Young’s playstyle is not championship basketball. 

He does share the ball for those arguing, he does, but he’s careless with the basketball. Young has a gruesome 1.9 to 1 assist ratio. He cannot take care of the ball. It’s essential that point guards should protect the ball like a baby and avoid sloppy play. Point guards who destroy Young in that category are Ricky Rubio – 3.2, Fred Van Vleet – 3.0, Chris Paul – 2.9, and Malcolm Brogdon – 2.9. I’m sure we all know where LaMelo ball will end up as well in this category. When attempting to build a championship roster, there’s no room for Young’s inability to take care of the ball.

LaMelo Ball

Coaches can’t stress enough ball movement. For a team to be successful, there has to be rotations and movement. Your point guard is in charge of making sure the offense is productive and efficient. Trae Young prevents all of that. Championship teams show consistency in ball movement, smart shots, and control of the game. LaMelo Ball is a point guard who can lead a team, get the right guys going, and make smart plays. 

Fortunately, we have gotten to see snippets in the preseason of what LaMelo Ball will become. His court vision, full-court passes on the money, and hustle on the defensive end were all on display in the preseason. Real basketball gurus didn’t care when LaMelo had zero points, just like when Dennis Rodman had 0 points and 20 rebounds. They do their job! And guess what, Lamelo had thirty points combined in the next two games. That’s what true point guards do, make the right plays, whether it’s assisting their teammates or scoring themselves.

Analyzing LaMelo Ball

When Melo is the facilitator, you’re giving your team the best shot. When watching Melo play with his new teammates in the preseason, it seems as if he’d been on the Hornets for five years. The chemistry was already there before they stepped on the court. “The connection with me and Melo, it just clicked right away,” Bridges, a forward for the Hornets, said. LaMelo is a generational player and a true point guard who takes pride in the name on the jersey’s front and not the back. 

His 6″ 8 body only brings more advantages to any aspect of the game. His strengths are precisely what coaches are looking for when searching for a point guard: Quarterback of the offense, elite passing, and phenomenal IQ. Guards and bigs are spoon-fed buckets, with Melo setting them up with his playmaking ability. Melo is the Quarterback with the IQ potential of Magic Johnson. Already we have seen that LaMelo’s passing is off the charts, his playmaking ability is high and chemistry with his teammates is already there. To be a real NBA contender, you need a point guard like LaMelo Ball and not Trae Young.

 

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