Oklahoma point guard Trae Young said Friday that he believes he’s the best overall player in the NBA Draft. But the second half of his freshman season says otherwise.
After an explosive start to the season, Young crumbled against Alabama point guard Collin Sexton, who plays a much more physical style. The Crimson Tide held Young to just 6-for-17 shooting from the field in an Oklahoma loss Jan. 27.
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From then on, opponents exploited Young’s struggles in physical matchups. In the last 10 games of the regular season, he shot 34.7 percent from the field.
However, Young, who’s barely over 6 feet without sneakers, said that he believes he can handle the physicality of the NBA.
There’s also concern he isn’t made for a rigorous 82-game schedule. But he said that he’s more than capable of the NBA grind and that he’s already working on getting his body in shape for it. He claimed to have gained 10 pounds of muscle in the last five weeks and plans to gain more over the summer.
Asked to name the biggest misconception about his game, Young said, “That I don’t like playing defense.”
He’s eager to prove critics wrong.
“The defensive side of things is something I’m looking forward to showing I’m capable of doing,” he said.
The Bulls have put a lot of scouting time into Young, which is concerning, to say the least. They already have a point guard in Kris Dunn. But as vice president of basketball operations John Paxson affirmed Tuesday, the Bulls plan to draft the best player available with the seventh overall pick, and that player might, in turn, replace one of their cornerstone players.
Young said he met with the Bulls and other teams this week, but he didn’t delve into what the discussions were like.
He was more talkative about the instant help he thinks he can provide for whichever team selects him.
“I think I bring a lot of things to the next level [for] a team,” he said. “I bring an immediate impact off the court as much as I do on the court. As far as my skill set, I can space out the defense. I can attack defenders in multiple ways, get my teammates involved. I can pretty much do it all for a team.”
Young said he ultimately doesn’t care where he lands in the draft June 21.
“It’s all about the fit with me,” he said.
NOTE: Bulls forward Paul Zipser underwent surgery Wednesday in Germany to repair his fractured left foot. The Bulls announced the procedure Friday but didn’t discuss a return timetable for Zipser, who missed the final nine games of the season.