Let’s all rewind to the 2009 NBA Draft. Stephen Curry had just come off of a legendary college season at Davidson where he lead the NCAA in points per game by more than a point. Despite his carry-job at Davidson, Curry was selected seventh in the NBA draft by the Golden State Warriors because of his lack of size and speculations that his playstyle wouldn’t convert to the NBA. Now, he’s a three-time NBA champion and league MVP.
This season, Trae Young pulled off the unthinkable. Like Curry, he lead the NCAA in points per game, but he also lead the NCAA in assists per game. Prior to this season, no player had ever lead the league in two different statistical categories; yet once again, (as if teams hadn’t learned their lesson with Curry), Trae Young was selected fifth overall by the Orlando Magic and traded to the Atlanta Hawks where he will begin his NBA career.
I absolutely hate comparing rookies to top-tier players, as I feel that it is unfair to put such high expectations on such young players, but Trae Young’s confident and fearless offensive playstyle closely resembles that of Curry, so it’s a good starting point for the new Atlanta dynasty.
Following their selection of Curry, the Warriors added shooting and versatile defenders (most notably Klay Thompson and Draymond Green). The Hawks are really making this too easy to dissect, as prior to the draft, those were my player comparisons for Kevin Huerter and Omari Spellman, each of which could be huge steals.
Kevin Huerter is a classic 3&D player. His three-point shot truly is his NBA calling card. Like Klay Thompson, he isn’t the most physically gifted player on the court, but they each use their 6’7 frames to stay in front of their man on defense. By no means will Huerter be able to guard the other teams best player like Thompson does at times, but he shouldn’t have a hard time at all locking up pure shooters.
Where Trae Young and Huerter may lack defensive potential, that is all made up for with their selection of Omari Spellman of Villanova. Spellman is a guy who gives 110% on both sides of the floor which occasionally even hurts him. He can shoot, protect the rim, and still make a positive impact without scoring. Sound familiar? That is the exact role Draymond Green plays with the Warriors.
Prior to the draft, the Hawks hired Travis Schlenk as their new GM. Schlenk was an assistant GM with the Golden State Warriors and got to watch them build their dynasty from the ground up. Hoping to not only replicate the Warriors’ success but also their playstyle, the Hawks also signed the man who drafted Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson: Larry Riley.
Will It Work?
It’s clear the Hawks intend to copy everything the Warriors did on their rise to greatness, but will it work the second time? I’m a huge fan of Trae Young and think he’s a great starting point for a franchise, but we’ll see if the Hawks surround Young with players that compliment his unusual playstyle rather than hurting it.