Back in October, we discussed the sure-to-be permanent connection between Luka and Trae, which has only become stronger after six months of regular season action. Immediately, Luka vaulted the otherwise bland Dallas Mavericks to the top of the NBA League Pass ranking, averaging 19PPG, 6.5RPG, 4.2APG while shooting 40 percent from three. He was good for at least one clip on House of Highlights per night. Luka’s consistent individual performances and visible impact on the Mavericks’ improvement shifted the Rookie of the Year conversation to who would win second place, with DeAndre Ayton slipping from his original place as the favorite and Jaren Jackson and Trae Young showing flashes. Luka, it seemed, had locked up the ROY campaign by December.
However, Trae reopened the case after a historic February, shooting 43.5 percent from three on 7.5 attempts per game. Over 20 games he averaged 22PPG, 8.5APG and, most impressively, led the Hawks, who once owned the worst record in the league, to an 8-12 record. Had those numbers been consistent for an entire season, Trae would be the 2019 Rookie of the Year, but unfortunately for him, he’s still averaging fewer points per game on less efficient shooting numbers on a worse team. Ultimately, what Luka has proven as a decision-maker and crunch-time scorer—two areas where rookies need to develop most—trumps Trae’s red-hot shooting and playmaking.