The 2022-23 NBA season did not go as the Toronto Raptors hoped. They stumbled through a season of injuries, regression, and disappointment to finish ninth in the Eastern Conference with a 41-41 record. A Chicago Bulls team bearing a similar backpack of mediocrity knocked them off in the Play-In Tournament.
That wasn’t supposed to be the script for the Raptors. They have an army of long-limbed defenders, multiple former All-Stars, and last season’s Rookie of the Year. Instead, they find themselves entering a critical offseason trying to decide what moves to make to rechart their course.
The options ahead of them range from “running it back” to a roster makeover. One path that has been discussed often is pushing in assets to add a true perimeter star. They have a number of similar players in Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes; what if they added someone completely different?
One star player making his way into the open market of the rumor mill is Trae Young. The Atlanta Hawks and their All-Star point guard are playing a game of chicken, each deciding who will ask out first. That could very well lead to Young being traded this offseason, as The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reported.
Should the Raptors trade for Trae Young? Probably not. Will they trade for Trae Young? Absolutely not. Here are three reasons why the Raptors will hang up the phone if the Atlanta Hawks come calling about a trade for Young.
3 reasons the Raptors won’t trade for Trae Young
Reason No. 1: Trae Young is a terrible defender
The Raptors have built something of an identity, at least defensively. They have an army of long defenders who can switch at will, pressuring teams into turning it over. The rim protection of Jakob Poeltl, added at the trade deadline, helped to bring it all together.
Fred VanVleet (should he come back) is small but is locked in defensively, and the rest of the rotation is tall for their position, long, and plays with a constant motor. Trading for Young would introduce a very large gap in that armor.
Trae Young wouldn’t play defense well for the Toronto Raptors.
Young isn’t simply a below-average defender; he is one of the very worst defenders in the league. He is small, with short arms and a lack of athleticism. You get one of the most destructive defensive players in the league when you slather that poor physical start with poor instincts and a lack of effort.
The Raptors could work to cover up for his poor defense at the point of attack, and they are certainly better equipped to do so than the Hawks are. Even so, the Raptors want to find a path to improvement that doesn’t compromise their defense along the way. Young represents the greatest weak spot in the NBA.