After goading from Shaq, Trae Young says he'll pass Stephen Curry as NBA's best shooter within a year

Jack Baer

Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young is feeling confident ... or at least willing to play along with Shaquille O’Neal.

The sophomore point guard made an appearance on Wednesday’s episode of O’Neal’s podcast, “The Big Podcast with Shaq.” One moment would later go viral on Sunday.

In the clip circulating, O’Neal asked Young how many years it would take him to surpass Stephen Curry as the best shooter in the NBA, which is a fairly ridiculous question to ask a player as early in his career as Young.

The point guard trepidatiously acknowledged Curry’s incredible career as the best shooter in NBA history, but O’Neal and his co-host were not satisfied. After plenty of goading, Young finally gave them what they wanted: “A year.”

Yeah, good luck with that.

Young was in the middle of a breakout year for the rebuilding Hawks before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the season, averaging 29.6 points and 9.3 assists per game while doing some truly ridiculous stuff.

During that breakout year, Young was shooting 36.1 percent from 3-point range. That’s a decent rate ... except it would be by far the lowest rate of Curry’s career in a full season.

Even in his first two years in the NBA, Curry was shooting 43.9 percent from deep, albeit in a much lower volume than Young has posted so far. Curry might have missed nearly all of this season, but there is little doubt he’ll be back to shooting 40-plus percent from 3-point range when he’s 100 percent on the court.

Trae Young probably isn't going to a better shooter than Stephen Curry in a year, and that's OK. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

It was a silly answer to a silly question, but even recognizing that, you have to remember we’re talking about professional athletes here. Believing they can surpass the Stephen Currys of the world in a year is just how they think.

Every G League player thinks he’ll make it to the NBA when he starts out, every bench player thinks he can start, every solid starter thinks he can become an All-Star, and so on. Just with a little more hard work. Such an outlook is not restricted to basketball, either.

It takes an incredible amount of self-confidence to get to where Young is right now, and the point guard’s answer is a reflection of that. Yes, it’s hard to see him passing Curry anytime soon, but you can’t blame him for believing in himself when it’s gotten him this far. And for doing exactly what Shaq wanted him to do.

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