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Grading the Luka Doncic and Trae Young Trade

On one fateful day in 2018, the Atlanta Hawks used their third overall pick to draft Luka Doncic. But the oddity in this selection was that the Hawks had no intention of keeping him. They did, however, intend on trading him to the Dallas Mavericks. In return, the Hawks would receive Trae Young, a player the Mavericks would select just two picks later, and a future first-round pick, who eventually became Cam Reddish. 

Grading the Luka Doncic and Trae Young Trade

Of any recent trades, this is arguably one of the most influential on the current NBA. Both Young and Doncic have been key players in NBA narratives and will continue to do so for the rest of their careers. This trade will forever impact the NBA, and it is, therefore, important to look back on it with proper hindsight. Here are the full trade details:

Atlanta Hawks Trade: Luka Doncic

Dallas Mavericks: Trae Young, 2019 First Round Pick

Why Didn’t the Hawks Just Take Doncic?

Before the draft, scouts were well aware of Doncic’s talent. Luka was the Euroleague MVP in 2018, so teams were in tune with his potential. most widespread in its effects on the league. But the Hawks seemed not to care. Their rationale was as follows:

“I’ve always taken the strategy with the draft, to use a baseball strategy: the more swings you get the more chances you have to get a hit. To be able to take one lottery pick and essentially turn it into two, that made sense to us.” – Travis Schlenk, Hawks GM

Doncic had his positives, but the Hawks were not married to anyone prospect. Looking back, they were still able to acquire a lottery pick in a deep draft, but the difference in ability between Young and Doncic eventually will be telling about the winner of this trade.

Was it worth it for the Mavericks?

To draft their franchise player, the Mavericks had to make a sacrifice. In giving up a future first-round pick, they worsened their chances of building a contender around Doncic as soon as possible. With this pick, the Hawks selected Cam Reddish, who played with the Hawks for just two seasons. He may still be young and full of potential, and since the Hawks traded him earlier this year, Cam has been balling with the Knicks. 

Looking back, this trade was worth it for the Mavericks. Reddish has not panned out for the Hawks, and the upgrade from Trae Young to Luka Doncic will be worth it forever. 

Final Grades

Note: the factors for these grades are a mix of the assets traded and the rationale for the trade at the time. The draft picks are also accounted for, and the players are produced via selection or trade.

Atlanta Hawks: B

The Hawks lost out on Doncic, a disunion that will haunt the Hawks front office for the rest of time. Doncic is a superstar, and the Hawks gained nearly nothing to downgrade to Trae Young. Regardless, Young continues to impress as a Hawk and, despite his flaws, has contributed to the quality of the team in his tenure there. 

Dallas Mavericks: A

The Mavericks traded an extra pick to get the player they wanted, and there is no reason now to look back. Doncic has the potential to be an MVP in just a few seasons and, with the right success, could surpass Dirk Nowitzki and become the greatest Maverick of all time. 


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