After posting another big stat line of 33 points and 12 assists against the Sixers on Wednesday night, it’s safe to say that Trae Young has been nothing short of spectacular after the All-Star break. He’s averaging 25 points and 9 assists through 21 games, and has an appropriate superstar highlight reel to boot, including but not limited to: a wild game-winner against the Bucks, a handful of double-doubles, and a ridiculous 49-point, 16-assist outing against the Bulls in late February.
There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Young will be an offensive force for years to come in the league, and his skill set is perfectly tailored to today’s game. Some fans would even say that his play puts him back in the running for Rookie of the Year. Alas, these fans would be wrong. Young has been excellent, but it’s a full season award, and Luka Doncic has gone wire-to-wire as not only the best rookie in the league, but as one of its more impactful players.
As nice as it would be, Young’s recent stretch doesn’t cancel out the first half of the season, where he couldn’t find his shot and was still catching up to the speed of the game. A time when the entire league was laughing at the Hawks for intentionally trading Doncic for a guy who can’t defend and takes Steph Curry-like shots without Steph Curry-like percentages. Their averages on the year are similar, but Doncic’s steady production over the course of the season is rare for a rookie, even if he’s not putting up gaudy numbers as the last third of the season drags on.
It will be a lot of fun to watch Doncic and Young go back and forth in the years to come. Even now it’s getting harder to definitively say who will end up being the best player of the two. But in their debut campaigns, Doncic has been the better rookie without a doubt, and will fully deserve his incoming ROY award. Young has been good, even great at times. But Doncic has simply been better.