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How Trae Young Compares to Kansas Stars

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

If you follow basketball, college or pro, you’ve heard about Trae Young. If you’re a fan of a Big 12 team, chances are you’ve followed Young’s season to date with a combination of amazement and fear. The Oklahoma freshman is so good offensively that it seems impossible. His numbers show a level of dominance challenged only by Big 12 greats like Durant, Beasley and Mason. His usage rate is off the charts, making him perhaps the single biggest individual component of any team the conference has ever seen.

And tonight, we’ll see him go up against the Kansas Jayhawks.

Young, of course, had KU as one of the finalists for his services, and some viewed his decision as a tossup between Lawrence and Norman. As I thought about this matchup, and what could have been had Young opted for Kansas, I began to wonder how Young’s numbers stack up against some of Bill Self’s highest usage players to come through Lawrence.

To decide who to compare him to, I used usage rate (%poss according to KenPom). Per Kenpom, %poss is described as “This describes a player’s role in the offense, by explaining how many of his team’s possessions a player is personally responsible for ending while he is on the floor.”

Trey Young’s comes in at nation high 41.5%(!). Kansas doesn’t have anyone who can touch that, but I set the line for comparisons at 25%. This narrowed it down to 12 players (two were filtered out because they played in less than 50% of the team’s minutes). Below is a chart comparing these 12 to Young using some key offensive statistics:

A few thoughts:

-Wow! It’s almost impossible to shoulder that kind of offensive load, and still shoot as well as Young has. His assists are off the charts, and his Ortg shows just how efficient he’s managed to be while his team leans almost exclusively on him to generate points.

-Frank Mason’s raw numbers don’t jump out like Young’s do, but look at how impressive that season was. He was the man on over a quarter of the team’s possessions (while playing a ton of minutes), but still tops this chart in offensive rating, and has the highest eFG% for any guard listed... all with one of the lowest turnover rates. If Mason were in a situation similar to Young’s, it’s not unreasonable to say he’d be doing similar things (albeit as a senior).

-The Morri were underappreciated.

-Young’s free throw rate is very solid, but it’s not astronomical. He’s more of a jump shooter than anything else. Per Hoop Math, he takes 35.7% of his shots at the rim, and makes 50.8% of them. That’s a solid number, but not amazing. The key seems to be to try and take away his jump shot as best as you can and make him work to create his looks. Of course, if it were that easy, it would have been done by now.