WATCH: ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith thinks Trae Young will get ‘exposed’ in NBA

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith is skeptical about the NBA potential of Oklahoma point guard Trae Young.

Smith said on First Take on Wednesday that he thinks Young could get “exposed” at the next level. He compared Young’s defensive play to that of Lakers point guard Isaiah Thomas, who has been criticized often in his NBA career for his lackluster defense.

Here’s what Smith said about Young:

“Listen, Trae Young can play. Any time you can average 29 [points] and 9 [assists] on the collegiate level, you’re big time. There’s no doubt about that. But on the NBA level, I think he’ll get exposed. Because if we’re talking about somebody like an Isaiah Thomas as a defensive liability, what are we going to say about Trae Young? He can still grow. He can still get better. I get all of that. But the rave about him, sometimes I see some of these bigger guys get on him.

“He’s had some games where you get all up in him, and I think that that could be potentially problematic. … I think the kid’s got a lot of promise, and I wish him nothing but the best. … He’s no scrub. Of course not. And he’s been impressive from time to time, but the raving about him … I don’t get it.”

Young was quickly hailed as the favorite for national player of the year this season after leading the Sooners to a 14-2 start. However, Oklahoma has lost seven of its past nine games, and Young has been stifled a few times in that span, including his game against Texas Tech on Tuesday where he failed to make a single 3-point attempt.

The irony of Smith’s comments, of course, is that ESPN has been the network “raving” the most about Young. That hype has actually caused some Big 12 basketball fans to turn on Young instead of being able to just appreciate one of the most entertaining players in the country.

Smith went on to say that he still agrees with LeBron James’ comments that Young should declare for the 2018 NBA Draft after this season.

“But while they are raving about him, listen to LeBron. Capitalize on it. Do what you’ve got to do, because the opportunity may not be there in the future the way that it is now for you. Staying in college a bit longer might get you exposed to some unwanted circumstances. So you need to capitalize on the moment and do what you’ve got to do.”

Young is currently projected to go No. 7 overall to the Philadelphia 76ers in ESPN’s latest NBA Mock Draft.

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