Is Trae Young just the first of many Steph Curry clones?

From ESPN - February 13, 2018

It comes as little surprise to anyone who has watched Trae Young that Oklahoma's phenomenal freshman point guard modeled his game in part after two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry.

"I would record every game," Young recently told the Wall Street Journal. "I'd watch before I went to bed or the next day. I watched how he played, how the Warriors moved without the ball and how Steph got everyone involved and still created for himself. I loved watching Steph's game."

Young was 10 when Curry was drafted by the Golden State Warriors in 2009 and was wrapping up his sophomore year in high school when Curry won his first of two MVPs and led the Warriors to the first of two championships -- so far -- in 2015. And now, having developed shooting range and ballhandling skills beyond where Curry was at the same age, Young is a contender for NCAA Player of the Year awards and a likely high lottery pick if he declares for the NBA draft.

The success Young has enjoyed, and the example Curry has provided, raises a question: Are there more Curry clones coming in future years?

How Curry has changed thinking in the NBA

One of the most fascinating articles about the NBA in recent memory came from my former colleague Tom Haberstroh, who suggested in an ESPN Insider article on the eve of the 2013-14 season that Curry should attempt 10 3-pointers a game.

At that time, the notion of Curry or any player shooting so many 3s seemed fanciful. While he had set a new league record by making 272 3-pointers the previous season, Curry had attempted just 7.7 per game. No player in NBA history had attempted more than the 8.7 Baron Davis attempted in the 2003-04 campaign, when he made them at a below-average 32.1 percent clip.

Moreover, the trend in recent seasons had actually been toward the league leader attempting fewer 3-pointers per game. In 2010-11, Curry's teammate Dorell Wright had topped all NBA players by averaging 6.3 attempts per game -- a rate that would rank outside the league's top 25 today.

As it turned out, Haberstroh was a little ahead of his time. Curry's 3-point attempts increased only marginally to 7.9 per game in 2013-14, albeit in fewer minutes. It was not until two seasons later, after winning MVP, that Curry fully unleashed his full 3-point arsenal. In 2015-16, Curry zoomed past double-digit 3-point attempts, averaging an incredible 11.2 per game ... and becoming the first player in NBA history to be voted MVP unanimously.

Curry's success helped pave the way for other stars to shoot 3s more frequently. This season, his 10.0 3-point attempts per game rank second in the league behind MVP favorite James Harden of the Houston Rockets, who is attempting 10.7 per game. Each of the past two seasons, both Harden and teammate Eric Gordon have attempted more 3s per game than any player in league history before Curry.

Certainly, some of this can be traced to the league-wide growth in 3-point attempts, which long predates Curry, as well as factors unique to each situation. The marriage of Mike D'Antoni's 3-happy offense with Harden's and Gordon's skills has been crucial. Still, given the dramatic and nature of the increase practically overnight, it's hard not to credit Curry's influence.

Curry changing the college game?

Because of the shorter 3-point line and larger gaps between teams, the NCAA has not needed to follow the NBA's lead when it comes to embracing the 3. After all, while Young's 10.5 3-point attempts per game would put him third in NBA history behind Curry and Harden, they rank a blas 43rd among Division I players since 1992-93, according to

More Traes (and treys) on the way?


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