There are two ways to view the Steph Curry-fication of basketball. The curmudgeonly take — one that does, in fairness, have some merit — is that relentlessly hoisting up threes from all over the court takes away some of the artfulness of the game. The other way to view it is that when a player is able to acquire that skill of seemingly limitless range, my goodness, is it fun to watch.
With that in mind, Trae Young was incredible in Atlanta’s recent 125-121 win over the Denver Nuggets, going for 42 points on 13-for-21 shooting from the field and 8-for-13 shooting from deep while pitching in 11 assists. It’s the latest performance in what has been a torrid start for Young this season, as the sophomore guard and Rookie of the Year runner-up has managed to look like the version of himself that made scouts salivate during his All-American campaign during his only season at Oklahoma.
For how much attention his shooting gets, Young does not get nearly enough credit for being one of the best passers on earth. He led the nation in assist rate at Oklahoma, and as a n NBA rookie finished third in this metric. Young’s passing makes opponents respect his shooting and vice versa. Through nine games, Young has been a supernova from downtown. Young is hitting on 40.2 percent from deep per game and sits in sixth in the league in scoring, averaging a 28 points a night.
It certainly helps that Atlanta is basically putting the ball in his hands and letting him get to work -- the Hawks have given Young the keys to the car and he’s responded by having it go faster than ever before. Keeping it up is the big thing, because it would put him in an excellent position to make an All-Star team for the first time in his young career, and making sure these numbers aren’t for empty calories for a squad that misses the postseason would be awfully nice. But on a much larger scale, Young is showing us that when executed at its best, the Steph Curry-fication of basketball can be a wonderful thing.