Whether it is draft class, position, or skill level, some players are linked to each other their whole career. In the 2018 NBA draft the Atlanta Hawks selected Luka Dončić with their number three pick. The Dallas Mavericks selected Trae Young two picks after with their number five pick. The two teams traded the players which included the Mavericks giving up a first round pick in the 2019 draft to Atlanta. Three years later both Young and Dončić have emerged as franchise players, while they are each successful in their own right fans are eager to declare a true winner from the trade. That’s the question.
Let’s see how they compare through statistics, postseason success, and individual awards & recognition. Then we will delve into what the future looks like for both players.
When you compare Dončić and Young’s career regular season averages the points and assists are basically the same. The category that has a significant difference is rebounds, Dončić has averaged 4.5 more rebounds than Young. I will expand on why this stands out later. Over the three years the Mavericks have had a better regular season record than the Hawks. The closest record of the three seasons has been this past season with the Mavs finishing with a .583 win percentage and the Hawks finishing with a .569 win percentage. The extra 4.5 rebounds Dončić has over Young can make all the difference in a game, whether it leads to second chance points or a fast break, and that is reflected in the Mavs record.
Dončić has had two playoff appearances although the Mavs were knocked out by the Clippers in the first round the past two years. The first series ended in six games while the most recent ended in seven. Young has had one playoff appearance where the Hawks made a successful run. This run ended in the Hawks falling to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals in six games. As of last night, the Bucks won the NBA Finals in 6 games against the Phoenix Suns.
Awards and Recognition
All of the coaches in the NBA individually select five rookie players for the All Rookie First Team (awarding you 2 points) and then do the same for the All Rookie Second Team (awarding you 1 point). The numbers are totaled and the top five players with the most points are the first team and the next five are the second team, disregarding position. Both Dončić and Young were selected during their rookie season to be on the All Rookie First Team. In addition to this honor Dončić was also named the Rookie of the Year. The NBA First Team is selected similarly although it is chosen by various members of the media. Each member chooses three players for each position, ranking them by team. It is much more difficult to make this list because there can be multiple players deserving of being on a certain team but there must be one player for each position therefore one must be chosen over the other. Dončić has been chosen for the All NBA First Team twice in the past two years. The interesting thing here is that there is no clear criteria for selecting these teams but that there was a consensus reached that Dončić was one of the best guards in the league.
Overall when looking at the three categories Dončić leads Young in two of them, making Dallas the current “winner” of the trade. The two have both had impressive starts to their career only a mere three seasons in and seeing them continue to develop as players is exciting. The next generation of the NBA is starting to form and fluctuations in sports and watching players evolve is why they are so addicting to watch. I have a strong feeling we are going to hear about these two for years to come and I for one can’t wait.