Prior to the 2017-2018 college basketball season, the vast majority of basketball fans had never heard of Trae Young, and the Oklahoma Sooners were not listed among the top 25 teams in the country. Just two months later, Young is the consensus National Player of the Year and, even after a road loss to Kansas State on Jan. 16, the Sooners are in fantastic position to be one of the top seeds in the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
Young has played 17 college games, and in those contests, the former five-star recruit is averaging 29.5 points (on 45/40/82 shooting) and 9.8 assists a night. Those numbers are simply out of this world at the college level, and unsurprisingly, they are unparalleled by any play in a Power 5 conference. As a result, the hype train is revving up for Young, who was a top-20 recruit but not previously seen on the level of Marvin Bagley III, Michael Porter Jr., DeAndre Ayton and others from this class as a high school player.
Just how real is this hype? Well, it’s real. Young may not be in the uber-elite tier with Doncic and Ayton at this point, but he has rocketed into the top 10 in virtually every mock draft, and with good reason. The comparisons Young is garnering to Steph Curry are both meaningful and easy given the similarities between the two players, with Young launching (very) deep threes and playing a free-flowing style most closely associated with the two-time NBA MVP.
Of course, it is wholly unreasonable to compare anyone to Curry, given the way that he plays a completely unique brand of basketball. But if you watch Young play, it is easy to see why scouts and fans alike would salivate over his considerable upside.
There are, of course, question marks, as Young is not a nuclear athlete, hasn’t been asked to play within a “normal” offensive system, and doesn’t bring a ton of defensive upside to the table. Still, it can’t be overstated just how ridiculous Young has been to this point in the calendar. As a result, top-five projections are now completely reasonable after virtually no one saw Young as even a mid-first round pick, much less a top-10 prospect, just weeks ago.
How high can he climb? Let’s find out with our latest 2018 NBA mock draft.