CHICAGO – Trae Young had a chill presence.
The Oklahoma point guard was confidence, but not cocky while answering questions Friday about the June 21 NBA draft.
“I think I’m the best overall player in this draft,” said Young, who interviewed with the 76ers here at the NBA scouting combine. “But my main focus isn’t necessarily being the best player in this draft.
“My goal is to the best player in the NBA. That’s what I’m focusing on each and every day.”
It’s the same focus that led him to becoming a consensus first-team all-American a year after he wasn’t even regarded as the nation’s top high school point guard in the Class of 2017. But his all-American status was far from surprising.
The 19-year-old received the Wayman Tisdale Award for being the national freshman of the year after leading the NCAA Division I in scoring (27.4 points per game) and assists (8.7).
“As far as a one-and-done, a lot of people had me the fourth- or fifth-best point guard in my class,” he said. “So I felt like I had something to prove coming into this year. I think I did pretty well this year.
“But I know I got a lot of hard work and stuff that I have to get better at.”
The chip he had entering his freshman season at Oklahoma is still present. Young, who measured at 6-foot ½ without shoes at the combine, doesn’t plan to shed it for a while.
— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) May 18, 2018
“I’ll always have a chip on my shoulder until I hang my shoes up,” he said. “No matter how long I play this game, the chip on my shoulder will always be there. That won’t change.”
That attitude combined with his seemingly limitless shooting range are the reasons why several mock drafts have the Orlando Magic selecting him sixth overall on the NBA draft. However, it will be interesting to see what the Sixers do should he slide down in the draft.
Right now, they have the 10th and 26 overall picks in the first round in addition Nos. 38, 39, 56 and 60 in the second round.
“They obviously had a really good year this year, surprised a lot of people,” Young said of the Sixers. “Really didn’t surprise me just because I know how talented Ben [Simmons] and Joel [Embiid] are. So they are looking for a playmaker all-around. I know they are interested in me.
“But you never know how things will fall.”
The Sixers already have three point guards on the roster in Simmons, Markelle Fultz and T.J. McConnell. However, none of them possess the shooting range that Young has. He’s been labeled as college basketball’s best shooter since Steph Curry, who played at Davidson from 2006 to 2009. Young also has a solid handle and can create his own shot.
If he has a weaknesses, it’s his slight frame and lack of athleticism. He’s up to 177.8 pounds after adding 10 over the last five weeks.
But Young doesn’t shy away from contact despite his size.
“I love when people try to be physical with me,” he said. “They think that’s the way to try to guard me and to get physical with me. I use that to my advantage.”
Young also thinks the he’ll take a lot to the next level. He thinks he’ll have an immediate impact off the court as much as on it.
When it comes to his skill set, Young said he can space out the defense. He added that he can attack defenders in multiple ways and get his teammates involved.
“I think I can pretty much do it all for a team,” Young said. “And I’m looking forward to whatever team I go to, making a huge impact.”