The Rookie of the Year race in the NBA this season will be a two-man debate, for however much there is to debate. Mavs rookie Luka Doncic has seemingly had the award locked up for most of the season, but Trae Young’s recent surge in Atlanta has at least sparked some conversation about whether the race will tighten up down the stretch run.
While Young has been fantastic of late, highlighted by a 49-point outburst in a 4OT game against the Bulls on Friday, Doncic’s season long numbers are still better than Young’s and even if you take out Young’s first month and a half of struggles, that’s still the case.
Even if the end result to this year’s ROY voting is something similar to last year, where months of chatter ends up in a landslide victory for Doncic (like for Ben Simmons against Donovan Mitchell), it’s great to see Young and Doncic both playing at a high level so early in their careers. Unlike Simmons and Mitchell, the two aren’t pitting themselves against each other, but instead have been nothing but complimentary of the other.
On the most recent episode of the Winging It podcast on The Ringer, Young and fellow Hawks star John Collins joined Kent Bazemore, Vince Carter, and Annie Finberg and eventually the conversation turned to Doncic. Young talked about how Doncic’s success motivated him, but that he hoped both would have excellent careers and have battles in the vein of “guys like Magic and Bird.”