Nick Young is one of the most recent players to join the Los Angeles Lakers. On July 11, 2013, the Lakers signed shooting guard/small forward Young to replace Metta World Peace.
General Manager Mitch Kupchak said, “At 6-foot-7, Nick’s size, ability to create his own shot and athleticism make him a versatile player who will give our lineup multiple looks on the floor. He’s an exciting player, and we’re excited to have him on our roster”.
Before we discuss his NBA career, let’s look at where Nick Young came from.
Young was born in Los Angeles, California and attended Cleveland High School in Reseda, California. As a senior, he averaged 27.2 points and 108. rebounds. Additionally, he was 46.8% from behind the arc and had 48 steals and 41 blocks in a 29-game season. His team finished 25-4.
Young stayed in his hometown after high school and attended the University of Southern California (USC). He played at USC for 3 seasons from 2004-2007 before declaring for the NBA Draft. In his first two seasons at USC, Young was named to the All-Pac-10 First Team. (Yes, at that time there were 10 schools in the conference, not 12). Young didn’t play his senior season at USC; instead he decided to go to the NBA after his junior year.
He was drafted 16th overall by the Washington Wizards. Young was no longer in his hometown in Los Angeles. He was going to a new city to play professional basketball. Young played 4.5 seasons in Washington and improved greatly with experience. In his last full season with the Wizards, in 2010-2011, Young was averaging 17.4 points and was shooting 44% from the field. In the following season, before being traded to the Clippers, Young was averaging 16.6 points.
In March of 2012, Young was traded to the Clippers in a 3-team trade which involved the Denver Nuggets and the Washington Wizards. Young only played 22 games with the Clippers, but helped lead the team to their first playoff berth since 2006. He was averaging 9.7 points.
His time with the Los Angeles Clippers was short lived. The following season, he signed with the Philadelphia 76ers. He played in 59 games, starting 22 of those games and averaged 10.6 points, and shot 82% from the free-throw line and 35.7% from the 3-point line.
His first year in Philadelphia was also his last. This offseason, Young decided he was ready to return home after playing on the east coast for 6 years. Young signed a two-year, $2.3-million deal at the veteran’s minimum with a player option in the second season.
Is Young a good pick up for the Los Angeles Lakers? Absolutely!
Young is an incredible 3-point shooter, which Mike D’Antoni loves. In his career, he is 36.4% from behind the arc and has the ability to “get hot” during a game.
Another advantage of having Young on the roster is his ability to play both the shooting guard and small forward position. What position will he play for the Lakers? We’re not sure yet. However, if Kobe Bryant doesn’t return by the start of the season, there is a chance that Young will play the shooting guard position alongside Steve Nash in the backcourt. If that happens, there’s only one other small forward on the roster, newly acquired Wesley Johnson. It would be surprising to see Young and Johnson in the starting lineup, but it is a possibility.
The higher likelihood, is that if Bryant doesn’t return by opening night, Young will play the small forward position with Jodie Meeks playing in Kobe’s spot.
Regardless of Kobe’s return, Young will most likely see more action with the Lakers than he has in the past six seasons with the Wizards or Clippers. Even with Bryant in the lineup, Young will play significant minutes in the small forward spot.
By the looks of it, Young can have a breakout season and truly make a name for himself as star in the NBA and there’s no better place to do it than the place he was born and raised. However, with World Peace gone, someone needs to step up and play defense for the Lakers– Young might have to be that guy. In his career, he averages 0.5 steals and 0.2 blocks. I’m not saying that Young has to be the next World Peace and be the defensive star of the team, but he has to develop his game further by adding the defensive skills and being productive on both sides of the ball.
D’Antoni’s system is definitely fitting for Young and he can be very productive this upcoming season for the Lakers. An interesting fact about Young is that he could have signed with the Lakers last season but he chose not to.
When asked to pinpoint a reason for his change of heart from last season to this season, he said “I didn’t want to just be another guy on the bench. I felt like I wouldn’t have been a good fit.”
Now with Dwight Howard, (or as a lot of Lakers fans now call him, Dwight Coward), Antawn Jamison, Earl Clark and Metta World Peace gone, Young has a better chance to contribute and see playing time in the starting lineup.
Can Nick Young step up and have a breakout season? It’s something all of us will be waiting for.
Interesting Fact: Rapper Kendrick Lamar is Nick Young’s cousin.
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