Before the season began, I several positional previews for this very site. Most of them predicted doom and gloom, more than a little tinged with negativity. However, nothing I wrote came close to the gnashing I gave to new Laker Nick Young. For reference, here are a few choice blurbs summarizing just how dour I was on the ester while Swaggy P:
Here we are, in his seventh season, on his fourth team, a veteran’s minimum contract and another poor season away from a ticket to the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball League.
If he doesn’t show an ability to stay in the Lakers rotation this year, especially with the starting small forward spot gifted to him, his career could be in jeopardy. All that is because he has been, for lack of a cohesive term, a disappointing bonehead for the majority of his career.
Young is the most offensive type of defender: capable but apathetic. Not having seen every minute of his defense, I’d venture to guess that most of them, like the sample size I’ve witnessed, would show Young with his hands at his sides in one-on-one situations…or him halfway down the court feigning disappointment that he didn’t get back on D.
It goes on:
Offensively, don’t be tricked by his gaudy averages, which include four of his six seasons in double digit scoring. He’s notched league average PERs his entire career, which is probably a symptom of the fact that he’s a career .427 shooter from the field and one of the most emphatic ball-stoppers in all of basketball.
And the parting shot:
In a word, he is selfish. He only cares about how Nick Young scores the ball, all other facets of the NBA game be damned. Hopefully he will benefit from playing alongside consummate professionals like Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Steve Blake. Young will undoubtedly be an offensive weapon to them, but only as a finisher on set shot plays. Other than that, he could be disruptive on both sides of the ball. I can’t imagine him being anything besides incredibly frustrating and disappointing this upcoming season. But at least in that way, he’ll be consistent in some regard.
To quote a the great Cher Horowitz, “That was way harsh, Ty”. Yet, I don’t regret writing any of it.
That’s who Nick Young has been his entire career. A ball-stopping guard who is infinitely more comfortable dribbling between his legs, pulling up, fading away even when it’s far from necessary and shooting the rock. He’s not a great defender, but one that could improve into an excellent one for his position if ever he wanted to. I used to believe that he was just an unwilling ball sharer, but as I’ve watched him this season, I find that it’s less of a question of desire than it is of ability: he’s a truly horrid passer. Sometimes, I’d actually prefer he’d take a pull up jumper with three guys on him rather than try unsuccessfully to make a play for someone else.