Trae Young: Doncic's shadow and the dawn of a new era

Doncic took all the spotlight when he arrived in the NBA, but Trae has come out of the comparison alive, creating his narrative ... and getting closer to the ring.


Trae Young and Luka Doncic came hand in hand to the NBA. The Hawks point guard was chosen in fifth position, and the Mavericks player two before, in third. Much has been said about that draft, in which a litter landed that has given a lot to talk about in recent years. Nobody understood the choice of the Kings, immersed in a gargantuan crisis that could have ended if instead of Marvin Bagley III they had selected Doncic. The Slovenian was traded after his election, by the Hawks, on his way to Dallas, in a reverse trip to that made by Trae, selected by the Mavs and sent to Atlanta by a prior agreement between both teams. Two men and one destiny, a rivalry that the NBA took full advantage of before it happened, with a Rookie of the Year that made covers and generated debate, but that ended up in the hands of the favorite, a Doncic who was just the winner.

Since then, the careers of both players have always been in the spotlight. Compared to the point of exhaustion, whatever one did was answered by the other, be it in the form of historical displays, early records, or simply details in the form of highlights and great plays. The two are the face of their respective teams, two projects that started from the bottom and were looking for their place in an NBA that does not wait for anyone. Nor to them, as young as they are talented, with an unusual leadership capacity for their age and a very promising future in a competition that wants to find a new face similar to the one that Magic and Bird once had. The one that Jordan inherited later, passed into the hands of Kobe and Shaq first and the Black Mamba later. A baton and a throne occupied today by the tireless LeBron, who continues to collect records.

However, despite the fact that there is a large group that is very strong (Embiid, Donovan Mitchell, Booker ...) not even LeBron is eternal and at some point he will have to be replaced at the top of the best league in the world. Especially in terms of discourse and narrative, those two things that the NBA constantly lives on, with public opinion, that place where the battles that decide wars are won, as a ruthless judge and a great bastion, always immovable. And Doncic and Trae have the support of the public and analysts, they have a large number of followers and they have earned the respect of that veteran part, who has designated them as successors and with whom they already rub shoulders as if they carried all the life doing it.

Trae gains ground

In regards to the eternal comparison with Doncic, Trae Young has gained ground this course after losing it the previous one. In a more discreet individual regular season, but still spectacular (25.3 points and 9.4 assists for the 29.6 + 9.3 from last year), the Hawks have gone from hell to light. After a difficult start, the squad showed the empowerment of the player so that Lloyd Pierce left the bench. The leaks (a classic, more than ever in the last decade) pointed to Trae and his deteriorating relationship with Pierce, maker of a project that had not seen the playoffs with him. His replacement was the goddamn Nate McMillan, who was quickly tagged as interim to leave no room for doubt or to secure a position they didn't want to take for granted for a coach who had lost four consecutive first-round seasons (all with the Pacers. ), the last two with 4-0. The future of the year was being strange and some predicted a difficult end and many changes in summer. But things started to change ...

In the end, the Hawks went from a 15-20 record to a final 41.31, a tremendous final sprint that assured them the playoffs without going through that uncomfortable play-in that Adam Silver likes very much and very little the players. They were fifth in the Eastern Conference, and with good numbers: eleventh in the NBA in scoring, fifth in rebounds, eighth in offensive rating, with Capela consolidated (15.2 + 14.3, top rebounder in the NBA) and the squad in tune. The departure of Rajon Rondo, who did not add up at any time, and the arrival of Lou Williams and his leisurely and friendly demeanor have improved chemistry and enhanced group synchrony. Gallinari has improved, Bogdan Bogdanovic has justified his sit-in with the Bucks at the beginning of the season, Heurter and Hunter fall in love with the public, John Collins does everything and Cam Reddish was being the defensive pillar until his injury and has returned in the series against the Bucks , albeit intermittently, with a team that had an established rotation. I mean, it's all smiles in Atlanta, despite the final loss.

The fight against Doncic ... and against history

And Trae? Everything has been under his baton. His maturity grows, his leadership is unquestionable and no one doubts a talent that he shows every night. He missed the All Star because of his team's record, but it has exploded in his debut in the final phase, which has seemed anything but the premiere of a man of just 22 years. In the first round against the Knicks, he went to more than 29 points and almost 10 assists. In the semifinals, 29 + 11 against the Sixers, with seven games to which he responded perfectly, the Hawks prevailing in the seventh in an unexpected and deserved way and leaving a project in check. One that began, by the way, with that Process today confirmed as a failure and that has not stepped on the Eastern finals all the way. The Hawks, by the way, have reached them for the first time since 2015, when they did it with Mike Budenholzer ... whom Trae has had in the opposite bench in the Eastern Finals and whom he witnessed a historic exhibition. in the opening game of the series: 48 + 11, with victory. They are the only two times the team has reached that round in the last 50 years, when they were Divisions and not Conferences. Not even with the legendary Lenny Wilkens did they reach that round in the 90s. For the only title in the franchise you have to go to Sant Louis: 1958, in the prehistory of the League.

Y as for Doncic, he has stayed for the second year in a row in the first round, this time with 3-2 up and a sixth game in Dallas. Meanwhile, his great rival reaches the Conference Finals in his playoff debut and surpasses his first two heats, something that the Slovenian has not yet experienced. And with 9 games above 30 points, the third highest figure for a rookie, tied with LeBron and behind Rick Barry and Jabbar, when he was called Lew Alcindor. And, in the Hawks, the good management of McMillan have quelled the popular revolt that threatened the structure of the franchise, back in January. In Dallas, the civil war is already a fact, Carlisle has left, Kidd has arrived and nobody knows what happens with Mark Cuban, who has always bet on long-term projects (see, Dirk Nowitzki), but is not able to reassure things. And this, we already know how it works: either there are results, or Doncic forces an exit that, for now, is not considered ... but whose possibility, as with Zion and the Pelicans, plans on fans and managers. Doncic and Trae. Bring and Doncic. Two men and one destiny. The two players who are going to lead a new era in the NBA. For now, the Hawks base is gaining ground. The rest, you know: the NBA does not wait for anyone. And neither do they.

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