On Luka Doncic, deep 3s and that pinned tweet: Best of Trae Young’s exclusive interview


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9:04 AM ET

  • ESPN.com

Trae Young worries there might be only one thing that could put a stop to the seemingly endless Luka Doncic comparisons.

“Retirement,” Young says with a laugh. “I think that’s what it’s gonna take.”

The two electric guards have been tied to each other since the Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks pulled off a trade on draft night in 2018, when Atlanta sent the No. 3 overall pick to Dallas in exchange for the No. 5 pick and a future first-rounder (that pick would become Cam Reddish).

“We’re going to be compared throughout our whole careers,” Young says on Doncic. “That’s fine, that’s what it’s going to be — it happened on draft night, and I don’t think it’ll stop until we’re both retired.”

The Hawks’ second-year guard, who is averaging 28.2 points and 8.3 assists, sat down with ESPN’s Royce Young to discuss the Doncic comparisons, his love for the deep 3-pointer and Atlanta’s rough 5-16 start to the season.

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


‘Trae Young vs. Luka Doncic’ has become so much of the conversation around your early career. Does it bother you that people can’t seem to separate you two guys because of what happened on draft night?

Trae Young: Yeah. For me, it bothers me — I just love playing basketball, I know he does. So it bothers me because it’s annoying just getting asked about it all the time. But I know it comes with it. I didn’t ask for it to happen, but it happened. … It’s two totally different situations, two totally different players. He’s playing well, I’m playing well. Just let it be.

Is that what your tweet ‘Apples and oranges’ was referencing?

TY: Umm, possibly. Possibly (laughs). It’s apples and oranges for sure.

Luka is an MVP candidate right now. Is there a part of you that wants to show that the Hawks made the right decision?

TY: Obviously there’s a little bit of motivation there — I have a lot of different thoughts and motivations, so that’s a little bit of it. I think both teams did what’s best for them. I think what we have going on: the rebuilding process, getting a lot of young guys and trying to build that way, build this city up, build the culture we have. It’s great, it’s growing. We have a lot of fans here that are supporting us.

Obviously in Dallas, they’re more in a win-now situation: going and getting all those free agents, getting Kristaps [Porzingis], Tim [Hardaway Jr.], Seth [Curry], They got a lot of guys that are veterans in this league. Two totally different situations.

The Hawks are off to a slow start, but for you personally it’s been a pretty significant step forward. How do you separate your personal growth as a player, which has been obviously fantastic — you’re fifth in the league in scoring — but the team has not been as successful?

TY: Yeah. It’s tough. For me, I’m all about the team. I’m all about winning. I’ve grown up learning and knowing that winning takes care of everything else. For me, it’s kind of a weird feeling. I’m playing really well individually, but at the same time, we’re not winning as many games as I’ve wanted to. It’s a balance of feeling good, but also feeling bad. I want to win. I want to win. And I know that’s going to take care of everything else.

I think it’s fair to say that your career got off to a bit of a rocky start. Summer league and your first month was a little bumpy. What was the biggest factor in you turning the corner?

TY: I think seeing players and seeing teams for a second and third time. … I started to get more comfortable. Coming into the league I was still too much of a fan of the players I was going against. And just from idolizing them growing up or knowing them as a kid, I think I had to get out of being a fan of these players I’m going against and get back to being a competitor. And the game started slowing down as time went on. Obviously, I play the point guard position, the toughest position in the league, so it’s something you have to have as the point guard … the mentality of competing at a high level. So once I figured that out, I started playing a lot better.

Was there a moment when you thought, ‘Maybe I’m not going to be the same type of player?’ The guy who can go out and get 35 or 40. Maybe I need to adjust.

TY: A lot of people asked me that when I was going through that stretch — not shooting the ball well and not playing well. To be honest, I didn’t change my mindset. I always thought it was going to turn eventually. And what helped me was the people around me; my family, the people in my inner circle really gave me a lot of confidence … really kept pushing me. My teammates … they just told me to keep going. For me, I never really lacked confidence and I never really thought that anything would be different in my mind, because I worked so hard. And I know it’s going to eventually pay off.


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