Any National Basketball Association fan remembers what Jeremy Lin did two years ago for the Knicks, but the real question is: “did you believe in ‘Linsanity?’” He broke Shaq’s record by scoring 136 points in his first five career starts and undoubtedly helped Time Warner Cable and MSG finalize their deal, but none of that seemed to matter when Carmelo returned to the starting lineup.
On a much smaller scale, Nick Young, AKA “Swaggy P,” is trying to resurrect a Los Angeles Lakers franchise that is visibly hurting without the presence of a healthy Kobe Bryant.
The Lakers haven’t had much consistency this season, utilizing players such as Ryan Kelly and Kendall Marshall sparsely, and further proving my point by signing Manny Harris to his second 10-day contract on Sunday. One thing that has been consistent is the energy that pours out of Swaggy, even though it may only be on the offensive end.
While you may have never heard someone use the name Nick Young and consistent in the same sentence, let me prove why it deserves a little credibility.
He is averaging 17.1 ppg on the season, but more importantly, the Lakers’ offensive rating is six percent higher with him on the floor. Sure, those stats don’t mean anything if Los Angeles isn’t winning (they are 2-10 in their last 10 games) but it does mean he brings something that they are missing when he is on the bench. Without Bryant on the floor, it’s obvious they have no leader, and while Swaggy doesn’t embody those features, it’s possible he could in the future.
People may frown at the idea of comparing Bryant and Young (trust me, I do too), but it’s not as scary as you would think. Both players came into the league as the small dog in the fight, except Kobe had Shaq and Nick had Brendan Haywood. Young hasn’t had much of an opportunity to play with a superstar thus far in his career, being bounced around between Washington and Philadelphia until landing in LA, even though he played a few games with the Clippers in 2011. Both are shooters with confidence that raises the roof, while neither has ever seen a shot that didn’t look good.
No, this may not be ideal winning chemistry, but think about how many times you have frowned when Kobe rose up to take an off-balance shot. But what matters the most is that they both want to win more than any player on the court and have a full understanding of what a team is, even if they do take 20 more shots per game than the other players combined.
About two weeks ago, Swaggy stepped to the face of the Suns’ rookie, Alex Len, and it resulted in his ejection after a punch was thrown. Post-game, LA Times reporter Mike Bresnahan quoted Young as saying, “What I’m mad about is just it was one on five … I felt like if somebody would have got in the middle, it wouldn’t have escalated that much.”
He wasn’t mad at Len or how the situation was handled, except for the fact that he felt as if not one of his teammates had his back. Sounds pretty reminiscent of Kobe when he was stressing the importance of team unity, aside from when he is negotiating contract extensions of course.
We can sift through statistics, quotes, etc. all we want, but all that matters is what happens on the court in the present. Jeremy Lin and Carmelo Anthony didn’t work because no one was allowed to shine brighter than Melo in the Big Apple. Will Kobe allow Young to continue bringing the Swagger back to the Laker franchise, or will one ball not be enough for the both of them to coexist on the court.