Trae Young’s Impressive Performance Against Kansas, and Other Thoughts

January 23, 2018

By Alan Lu

I decided to take the time to watch Trae Young and Oklahoma play against Kansas in a high-stakes Big 12 regular season game.  It was a very competitive game that went all the way down the wire, but Young was able to rally his team back from behind and lead the way to help get Oklahoma the win.  Here are my thoughts on how Young and his team fared on this day.

Oklahoma’s freshman point guard, Trae Young played really well, as he lead his team to a tough win over Kansas.  He was hounded early as Kansas tried to minimize his shot attempts, but Young was doing a very good job of distributing the basketball.  He consistently was able to make shots throughout the game, and he was able to make some big three-point shots down the stretch.

Young did a great job of shooting the basketball.  He excelled at knocking down pull-up threes from beyond the arc, and he has a quick release that enables him to get his shot off before defenders can close out on him.   Also, he did a very good job of getting scores on drives to the basket.  Young changes speeds well, and he can score on floaters as well as on reverse layups.  He also managed to draw plenty of free throws on strong moves to the hoop.

Plus, he also demonstrated good playmaking skills.  Young possesses solid court vision, as he can get the ball to his teammates in a variety of ways to set up scores for them, and he can throw long outlet passes as well as accurate lob passes.  However, some of his passes were inaccurate, as a few got intercepted, and another sailed out of bounds.  On a separate offensive possession, he was called for committing an offensive foul on a drive in transition, as he appeared to have tried to clear out using his arm on that play.

In addition, Young was able to haul in his fair share of defensive rebounds when he was on the floor.  However, he displayed just average at best defensive skills.  For the positives, Young did a good job of collecting steals, as he was able to intercept a pass, and he also managed to poke a ball away to force turnovers.

On the other hand, he had trouble defending jumpers, as his lack of size hurt his ability to contest shots, and he also once bit on a pump fake to allow his opponent to score on a long two-point shot.  In addition, he occasionally struggled to stay in front of his man on drives, as this led him to commit a foul once, and allow a score another time.  In general, Trae Young played very well, as he had a strong showing to help lead his team to a win over Kansas.  He is a smart, skilled basketball player that can really help his team in many different ways, and he could be a top 5 pick in 2018.

Kansas’ 6-3 sophomore point guard, Malik Newman played very well in his team’s loss to Oklahoma.  He excelled as a shooter, scorer, and defender when he was on the floor, and he seemed to play the best among all of the Kansas’ players in this game.  Newman did a great job of shooting the basketball, as he would knock down spot-up threes, as well as pull-up jumpers to space the floor for his team.  He also can score on quick drives to the hoop, as he can finish plays with either hand.  He also managed to score on a drive while getting an extra free throw, but sometimes he may miss shots, as he may not always have his balance.

He did not look to be a facilitator against Oklahoma, but Newman did not turn the ball over often, as he generally handled the ball well.  However, he did commit one turnover early on, as he lost the ball on a drive due to playing too fast and out of control that time.  Also, he did a good job of collecting rebounds when he was on the floor, as he was especially active on the defensive glass.

Plus, he also played good defense.  Newman would jump passes to get steals, and he would also contest threes to force misses, but sometimes he would be too undisciplined on defense, as he would bite on a pump fake or get beat on a step back, as that would cause him to allow scores off the dribble to his opponents.  In this game, Malik Newman turned in a solid performance, as he consistently made plays on both ends of the floor.  He has shown significant improvements in his game overall, and he could end up being a find for an NBA team whenever he decides to enter the draft.

Kansas’ 6-8 senior forward, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk played well in his team’s loss to Oklahoma.  He generally played a solid all-around game, and he particularly excelled as a scorer when he was on the floor.  Mykhailiuk did a good job of knocking down jumpers to space the floor for his team against Oklahoma.  He would make quick threes off the catch, and he also used a pump fake move to knock down a long, pull-up two-point shot.  He was a bit streaky with his jump shot, but his ability to shots really helped his team establish solid scoring options on offense.

He also showed a fairly good ability to get scores off the dribble.  Mykhailiuk was able to use a crossover move to score on a runner, and he can score on patient drives to the hoop.  Plus, he can draw numerous fouls upon the opposition.  Another time, he was able to use a Euro-step move to score on the break.  But sometimes, he would miss shots in the paint, as he also had some trouble finishing plays in traffic.

Also, he displayed decent playmaking skills.  Mykhailiuk can get the ball to his teammates to set up scores for them, and he also managed to find a roll man on the move to notch an assist.  However, he also committed a couple of turnovers due to carelessness, as he threw a bad pass off of a drive that got picked off, and he also had a ball poked away after handling it another time.  He also showed an adequate ability to rebound the basketball.  Mykhailiuk was active at crashing the glass, and he was able to haul in multiple boards on both ends of the court.

Plus, he displayed adequate defensive skills.  Mykhailiuk showed a knack for getting steals, as he was able to intercept a pass and poke a ball away to help force his opponents to commit turnovers.  He also would contest mid-range shots to force misses.  However, he also tended to give his man too much space, and sometimes he would leave his man wide open, as he ended up allowing his opponents to score on three-point shots.

In general, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk put forth a good performance in his team’s loss to Oklahoma.  He would consistently get buckets to help his team all the way to the end, and he also would contribute in other facets of the game.  He is a good shooter that could project to fit in well at the next level as a role player, as he could end up being a good pick for an NBA team in the second round of the upcoming draft.

Oklahoma’s senior big man, Khadeem Lattin had a decent game in his team’s win over Kansas.  He may not have played enough when he was on the floor, but he was able to make some solid plays for his team on offense.  Lattin excelled as a finisher in this game, as he would consistently score on dunks around the basket.  He also managed to catch a lob pass to score on an alley-oop dunk against Kansas.  He also managed to make a mid-range shot off the catch.  But there were a few times where he was unable to score in the post after getting the ball down low.

He also showed off decent playmaking skills.  Lattin was able to hit a cutter from the post to notch an assist.  However, he also threw a bad pass from the post another time, which ended up getting picked off.  However, Lattin struggled to rebound the basketball in this game.  There would be times where he would forget to block out, as he would allow opponents to get offensive boards in his area, but he did play good defense.  Lattin excelled at defending in the post as well as on drives to force misses, though he did commit fouls at times.  In general, Khadeem Lattin may project into being an energetic big man that could also be a rim protector in the NBA.  He will need to improve his skill set offensively, and he will need to stay out of foul trouble, but he could end up being a solid addition to an NBA team’s summer league roster.

Kansas’ 6-2 senior point guard, Devonte’ Graham turned in an uneven performance in his team’s loss to Oklahoma.  On one hand, he almost was able to collect a triple-double, but on the other, he shot the ball really terribly, as his inability to make shots in this game may have really hurt his team’s chances to come away with a victory in this contest.  In this game, he did not shoot the ball well.  Graham was able to make a quick three off the catch after running off of a curl, but he also tended to miss jumpers, regardless if it would be off the catch or dribble.

On the other hand, he did show a decent ability to get scores off the dribble.  Graham tended to draw numerous fouls on the opposition, and he also can score on quick drives to the hoop at times.  However, he also had some trouble finishing plays in traffic.  Graham displayed good playmaking skills in this game.  He is a patient player that can throw accurate interior passes, as he will effectively hit the cutter and throw passes to roll men to set up scores for his teammates.  But sometimes, he can get his passes deflected and intercepted, which can lead him to commit some turnovers.

He did a very good job of rebounding the basketball, as he was especially active at hauling in offensive boards for his team.  However, he did not play very good defense in this game.  For the positives, he did a fairly good job of applying ball pressure,  as he was able to jump a pass to get a steal, and he also managed to poke a ball away another time to almost collect another.

However, Graham struggled to stay in front of his man, as he tended to get beat off the dribble, which would lead his team to scramble and allow scores, and he also committed a reach-in foul in transition another time due to being undisciplined on that defensive possession.  In general, Devonte’ Graham did not have his best game, but he did show a good ability to distribute and rebound the basketball.  However, it is still disappointing that he cannot seem to consistently play well in big games, and he may not be a dynamic enough of a playmaker to be an upper echelon point guard in the NBA.  Graham likely projects to be more of a game manager at the next level, as he could end up going somewhere in the second round on draft day.

Kansas’ sophomore center, Udoka Azubuike started out having a fairly good game, but it was his head coach, Bill Self’s puzzling decision to leave him on the floor late in the contest, combined with Azubuike’s inability to make free throws that helped allow Oklahoma to come back and win this match.  First and foremost, Azubuike is a startlingly bad free throw shooter.  As of today’s date, Azubuike has never made 45% of his free throws or better in any given college basketball season, and Oklahoma fouled him often down the stretch.  Azubuike was unable to make his opponents pay for doing so, as he ended up making an abysmal 1 of 7 of his free throws at the foul line. 

This both stopped Kansas from getting into any sort of flow on offense, and it enabled Oklahoma to effectively get stops by putting a terrible free throw shooter at the stripe.  As a result, Azubuike will need to really focus on making free throws, as well as on being a better shooter moving forward, because in the meantime, opponents may look to copy this strategy as a means to beat Kansas if he does not significantly improve his free throw shooting, but away from the talk of his awful free throw shooting, Azubuike did make some solid plays on the basketball court.  He is a very good finisher around the basket, as he is an effective scorer in the post, and he can score on hustle plays.

Azubuike was able to score on a powerful dunk off of a roll to the rim, and he also threw down a thunderous dunk on the break after getting the ball as a trailer in transition.   He did a good job of drawing fouls and getting scores after posting up, as he can score on jump hooks and drop step moves, and he can draw many free throws, though the latter doesn’t really help him that much since he’s a terrible free throw shooter.  He did show decent playmaking skills in this game.  Azubuike managed to throw a crosscourt pass from the post to notch an assist.  But there was another time where he committed an offensive foul when jostling for low post position off the ball.

He did a very good job of rebounding the basketball, as he would leap up to get plenty of boards, especially on the defensive end.  However, he did not defend too well in this game.  For a positive, Azubuike managed to force a miss as he held his ground when defending in the post.  On the other hand, he had trouble defending drives.  He bit on a pump fake once, and committed a foul as his team allowed a score, and he also committed another foul when rotating to step up on a drive on a separate defensive possession.

In general, Udoka Azubuike seems to have some clear strengths and weaknesses as an overall player.  As a prospect, he is more of a traditional, big-bodied center, as he will look to finish plays in the paint, and he will look to rebound and block shots.  However, he will need to improve his skill level significantly on offense, and he can really struggle to defend if he is forced to guard players out on the perimeter.  Right now, his game may bear a resemblance to that of current Houston Rockets’ center, Chinanu Onuaku, as he may be a project player that could end up being taken by an NBA team in the second round whenever he decides to enter the draft.

Unfortunately for Kansas’ 6-5 junior swingman Lagerald Vick, he did not play very well, as his team lost to Oklahoma.  He struggled to get going, as he did not have much of an impact on this game.  Vick was unable to make any of his three-point shots, as he did not do a good job of spacing the floor for his team.  While he did score on hustle plays, as he scored on an alley-oop dunk off of a cut, as well as on a tip dunk, those plays did not offset his shooting woes on offense. 

He did manage to get one assist, but he also threw an entry pass that got intercepted by a defender.  Defensively, he looked to be about average.  Vick was able to contest a three to force a miss, but he also committed a foul on a drive another time.  In general, Lagerald Vick just did not play very well, as he has struggled to be an effective floor spacer as of lately.  Though he is still having a good junior season, he has been in something of a funk recently, as he also shot the ball poorly in his team’s wins over Baylor and West Virginia prior to this game.  Right now, Vick may be a talented prospect, but he can be too inconsistent in games, as it may be too risky for NBA teams to consider selecting him in the draft in any other round except the second round.

Oklahoma’s 6-9 freshman forward, Brady Manek shot the ball well, as he excelled at making spot-up threes off the catch, and he also managed to catch a long outlet pass after running the floor to score on a break.  He did commit some turnovers, but generally, his ability to knock down jumpers really helped his team space the floor, as his strong shooting skills helped his team get the win over Kansas.

Oklahoma’s 6-4 junior guard, Christian James quietly had a solid game, as he was able to score in a variety of ways, and he also played good defense when he was on the floor.  He made spot-up threes off the catch, scored on strong drives to the hoop, and he also managed to intercept a pass to get a steal.  He could be a player to watch in 2019.

error: Content is protected !!