BROOKLYN, N.Y. (TNS) — Hawks general manger Travis Schlenk made the most consequential transaction of his tenure Thursday night when he acquired Oklahoma point guard Trae Young in the NBA draft.
The Hawks traded the No. 3 overall draft pick to the Mavericks in exchange for the No. 5 pick in the 2018 draft plus a protected first-round pick in the 2019 draft, top-five protected. The Hawks selected Real Madrid swingman Luka Doncic with the third pick for the Mavericks and the trade was consummated once the Mavericks took Young after the Grizzlies picked Michigan State forward Jaren Jackson Jr.
Young, 19, was one of the best players in college basketball during his one season at Oklahoma. He became the first freshman to lead NCAA Division I in scoring (27.4 points per game) and assists (8.7). Young was a staple of highlights because of his 3-point shooting from well behind the line and his play-making.
"I think his ability to make plays for his teammates — really good passer, really good vision — can really be an asset for any team," Hawks assistant general manager Jeff Peterson said prior to the draft. "When you get guys who can find teammates and distribute the ball like he can and typically is pretty accurate, that's valuable. He obviously can make shots. His range is very impressive. He will have to continue to improve his shot selection."
Young has drawn comparisons to NBA star Steph Curry because of his shooting range, ability to make 3-pointers off the dribble and relatively slight frame — he measured 6-foot-1.75 and 178 pounds at the scouting combine last month.
The Warriors selected Curry with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2009 draft. The Hawks hope that Young eventually will blossom into the kind of star player worthy of selection near the top of the draft.
To do so, he likely will have to overcome some weaknesses, including his size. Young regressed later in Oklahoma's season, raising questions about how he will hold up physically in the NBA.
Young's scoring efficiency decreased later in Oklahoma's season. His 3-point shooting accuracy declined, though he still ended up making 36 percent of 328 attempts for the season.
After his workout with the Hawks two weeks ago, Young said he'd gained 11 pounds since his last game.
"Being a smaller guard, you've got to be able to stand out in different areas," Young said then. "Be really able to shoot the ball, be really able to pass the ball, be really scrappy and be a tougher player. I think I get criticized a lot about not being as tough, but I'm an extremely tough-minded player."
In addition to his size, potential weaknesses for Young include his defense and ability to finish at the rim. Both areas could be challenging for him in the NBA because he's not a particularly explosive athlete.
There are smaller guards in the NBA who have become stars, including Curry, Chris Paul and Kemba Walker. Those players improved as players once they learned how to score around the basket against the length of NBA shot blockers.
"I think a lot of it will be predicated on adding strength: lower body, core, upper body," Peterson said. "He will get beat up going inside a little bit, so he's going to have to figure out how to take the hit and still get a shot off and make a shot. That's what these NBA guys do. But his touch is pretty good with both hands, so I think he will be able to adapt in that area."
Young is the highest pick for Schlenk in his two Hawks drafts — he selected John Collins with the No. 19 overall pick in 2017.
The Hawks won the third pick in the draft lottery after they finished with the second-worst record (24-58) since the franchise moved to Atlanta before the 1968-69 season.