Let’s calm down about the Rookie of the Year Race

trae luka
Richard W. Rodriguez / AP

Since the all-star break, Trae Young is averaging over 25 points and around 8 assists per game, which, if extended for a whole season, would almost certainly warrant an all-star selection. This recent surge of unbelievable play from the Hawks rookie has led many Atlanta fans to voice their belief that it is Young, not media darling Luka Doncic, who should win Rookie of the Year at the NBA Awards in June.

Let’s get the hard part out of the way: No, Trae Young does not deserve to win Rookie of the Year. Doncic has been better in virtually every metric outside of assists, and has played much more consistent basketball throughout the season. While Doncic is certainly not a defensive stopper, he is not the complete liability that Young is on that end of the floor. The Mavericks and Hawks have similar records, so that factor cannot be taken into account.

However, all of the social media warriors who are getting caught up in this Rookie of the Year race are failing to see the bigger picture. Rookie of the Year is an award that many times doesn’t necessarily translate to future superstardom in the NBA. Michael Carter-Williams, Malcolm Brogdon, and Tyreke Evans (who won the award over Steph Curry) are all past Rookie of the Year recipients, and none of them have reached anywhere near the status that one would assume goes along with such an award.

This is not to suggest that Doncic will meet a similar fate as these players. It’s almost certain that he won’t. In fact, many pundits maintain that Doncic should have been named an NBA all-star this year. He is going to be a star in the NBA for years to come. However, one must consider that Doncic has been playing professionally since his early teenage years, while this is Young’s first time ever playing against grown men.

Young’s game has the potential to be much more important to team success than Doncic’s down the road, with his shooting range extending beyond 30 feet forcing defenses to account for him at all times, which opens up opportunities for his teammates. Kevin Durant is probably a more skilled player than Stephen Curry, but Curry has more of an impact on his team’s success. This same analogy can be applied to the Young-Doncic situation.

Young is also a better fit than Doncic for the three-pointer heavy, run-and-gun offense that Travis Schlenk and Lloyd Pierce have engineered in Atlanta. Not to mention the fact that, if Dallas’s pick falls outside of the top 5 this May, Atlanta will have two lottery selections in the draft, effectively taking a year off of the franchise’s rebuild. These are all things that must be considered when judging whether or not Atlanta lost the trade.

So, Hawks fans, please don’t be disheartened or infuriated when Luka Doncic inevitably takes home the Rookie of the Year award. MVP’s and championships later on down the road will more than make up for it.

Jackson Stone – @tdjs_network

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