NBA Rumors: Why the Rockets could be the perfect Trae Young trade destination

N.B. Lindberg
Houston Rockets v Atlanta Hawks
Houston Rockets v Atlanta Hawks / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages
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Trae Young is an elite offensive talent

This is not hyperbole. Trae Young is one of the 15-best offensive players in the NBA and is one of the few players you can consistently build a top-five offense around. Since 2019-20, the lowest he has ranked in offensive box plus/minus is 16th, and that’s this season where he has been uncharacteristically poor from 3-point range. FiveThirtyEight’s Raptor metric thinks he is even better than that. The lowest he has finished in their overall offensive Raptor is tenth, maxing out at second last season. 

Young is such an offensive talent that while shooting 30.7% from 3-point range this season, he is still a top-15 offensive player. When the floor for your offensive production is that high, you’re a superstar, and the Rockets are the perfect team to utilize his dazzling offensive traits. 

The Rockets had visions of an offense built for Trae Young

Stephen Silas was hired because of his offensive vision. That vision was predicated on a spread-out pick-and-roll attack built around James Harden. Unfortunately, Harden lasted eight games and was largely disinterested in playing for the Rockets with Silas at the helm. However, Trae Young fits that vision to a tee. 

Young has run the second-most pick-and-roll ball handler possessions in the NBA behind Ja Morant this season. Last season, he was first. All of that volume comes with scoring efficiency as well. Yet, Young’s scoring is only his second greatest trait. He is one of the league’s best passers. 

Since his rookie season, Young has averaged at least 9.0 assists per game and has seen his turnovers per game decline each season. He’s second this season in points generated by assists, was first last season, and finished fourth in 2019-20 and 2020-21. The way Young blends above-league-average scoring efficiency at a massive volume with elite playmaking has been matched by few players in history. 

Organizationally, the Rockets have shown an eagerness to build an offense around a singular talent. However, in the absence of such a talent, the Rockets' offense simply cannot take flight. Trae Young would instantly come in and give the Rockets the offense what they’ve always wanted, and their supporting players would also get the most out of a pairing with Young. 

Jalen Green should thrive playing off of Young, and his scoring threat would prevent teams from selling out to stop Young. Jabari Smith Jr. is the perfect stretch power forward for a spread-out attack and would benefit tremendously from a steady stream of open threes. Tari Eason is an instinctive cutter and has shot well from three as a rookie, and both of those traits should only play up with Young at the helm.

The cost to land Trae Young will be high

The two casualties of a Trae Young acquisition would likely be Alperen Sengun and Kevin Porter Jr, but that’s fine. Sengun isn’t a lob threat, and employing Young without a lob threat is negligent, and Porter plays the same position and would be relegated to the bench. When you trade for a superstar, you don’t say no because you can’t keep the band together because to get one, you almost always need to kick the backup singers to the curb. 

Sengun and Porter are the type of intriguing young players you trade for a superstar. A trade structured around Porter, Sengun, more salary, and a boatload of picks could be enough to entice the Hawks. Any deal where you keep all of Green, Smith Jr., and Eason to get Trae Young would be a massive win for the Rockets. 

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