Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Trae Young’s stock watch wins out as the most talked-about debate of the 2018 NBA draft. And with the lottery complete, we can have a more informed discussion about where he ends up.
Possibility No. 1: Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks may consider Young at No. 3 once Luka Doncic and Deandre Ayton are off the board. Dennis Schroder discussing other teams he’d want to play for should only fuel more speculation. With three first-round picks, the Hawks should be in complete rebuild mode, and Schroder doesn’t stand out as a must-have piece moving forward.
The Hawks could replace him with Young at No. 3 and then look at wings or bigs—such as Missouri’s Jontay Porter, Creighton’s Khyri Thomas, USA’s Mitchell Robinson, Texas Tech’s Zhaire Smith or Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo—at No. 19 and No. 30.
Even if Atlanta does keep Schroder, the Hawks’ No. 2 scorer is Taurean Prince, and their No. 2 assist man is Kent Bazemore. Young adds something to the mix either way.
It seems more likely that they’ll view Duke’s Marvin Bagley III, Texas’ Mohamed Bamba or Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr. as safer, higher-upside picks who would also fill needs.
Possibility No. 2. Orlando Magic
Since the Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks figure to go after bigs, Young is most likely to land with the Magic at No. 6. Orlando passed on a potential point guard of the future in Dennis Smith Jr. last year and then traded Elfrid Payton to Phoenix for a second-round pick at the trade deadline.
Assuming the Magic retain restricted free agent Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac is healthy for 2018-19, the team doesn’t have room to play another power forward or center. Unless Orlando falls in love with Villanova’s Mikal Bridges, who’ll turn 22 years old before the season, Young makes too much sense. He’d fill a glaring hole and give this roster needed scoring and playmaking from the backcourt.
Possibility No. 3. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls will only take Young if they believe he’s the clear-cut best player on the board. They seem invested and confident in Kris Dunn after acquiring him in a trade for former franchise player Jimmy Butler. Chicago is likely to stick with Dunn at point guard and fill one of its holes at small forward (Mikal Bridges) or center (Wendell Carter Jr.).
Possibility No. 4. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Nets)
It’s tough to picture Young slipping to the New York Knicks at No. 9 unless the Cavaliers view Collin Sexton as the superior prospect. They need another playmaker with George Hill and Jordan Clarkson each averaging fewer than three assists per game. Sexton’s 3.6-to-2.8 assist-to-turnover ratio and 33.6 percent three-point shooting this past season, plus LeBron James’ public support for Young, should give the Oklahoma point guard the edge here.
Cleveland’s other target could be Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr., though if Young is available at No. 8, Porter probably will be long gone.