The 2018 draft class was easily one of the most talented coming into draft night with names such as Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Deandre Ayton, and many more. It is common to see the number one and number two picks be more linked together as far as having eyes on them to perform at the highest level. The top five picks in the 2018 draft made All-Rookie First Team which had not been done since 1984, but it was the number three and number five picks in Doncic and Young that would be connected for their career all based on one trade.
Luka Doncic was drafted with the third overall pick to the Atlanta Hawks and Trae Young followed close behind at the fifth pick overall to the Dallas Mavericks. Luka and Trae have proven that they are the best players from the 2018 draft considering they are the only two to make an All-Star appearance. To make it more interesting, the two were traded for each other on draft night and have turned into superstars for their respective teams. Luka went to Dallas for Trae Young as well as a future first-round pick was sent to Atlanta. So, the ultimate question in this draft-night trade, who won the trade overall? Let’s discuss.
Honestly, I think both Atlanta and Dallas won this trade. Atlanta got their star point guard and team leader in Trae Young and Dallas got what might be the next generational talent in Luka Doncic. Both teams have gotten pieces that have boosted them back into playoff teams for the foreseeable future. Neither team has really seen a negative in these two players other than the lack of going further in the playoffs but they are young and have plenty of time to improve on that.
When it comes to their play style, they are not that different. Both feature unlimited range and can dribble the ball at a high level. Both guys can also get to the rim effectively although the end result from them is usually different. Doncic either lays it in on a euro step or a kick-out pass and Trae Young either drops in a floater or an alley-oop to one of his big men waiting in the paint. Neither really possess a defensive presence on the floor, but their abundance of offense makes up for that.
There are obvious stats where Doncic is better such as rebounding, but the size difference is the key there. Overall, Doncic has the nod for who is better right now simply because his team has managed more wins and seen the playoffs whereas Trae is in his first playoffs appearance. Doncic emerged as a playoff superstar in his first playoff series last season. Doncic averaged 31.0 points, 9.8 rebounds, 8.7 assists, and 1.2 steals per game while shooting 50 percent from the field all on a bum ankle and with no Kristaps Porzingis. However, Trae and the young Hawks are still alive this season and looked rather impressive in round one. It will take a while to see which of these two has more success overall, but this year’s performances have added to the conversation.
The Hawks this season are still alive in the playoffs as I mentioned before and Trae Young is leading the charge. At 30.2 points and 9.8 assists per game in the playoffs so far, Young has become one of the best players in the playoffs. Luka Doncic and his Mavericks were eliminated by the Clippers in seven games in the first round, but Doncic solidified himself as a future superstar come playoff time. Doncic put up an astounding stat line of 35.7 points, 10.3 assists, and 7.9 rebounds per game in the series against the Clippers. Luka obviously put up better numbers overall but a seven-game series against a tough Clippers team will do that to a stat line.
These two young superstars are still unlocking their potential in the NBA and if the first three years have only been the beginning, then we basketball fans could be in for an amazing next decade with these two guys in the league. Only time will tell which of the two will emerge the better draft pick and player, but so far, it’s quite the show to watch on the basketball floor. A tip of that hat and congrats to Atlanta and Dallas for picking up their superstars and making the 2018 draft more memorable, and creating one heck of a story for the next decade as these two get better and better.
Stats from espn.com, nba.com and statmuse.com
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