The Lakers have finally signed a free agent to play on the wing and he should be a familiar name to residents of Los Angeles. Per USA Today’s Sam Amick:
Nick Young to the Lakers, per agent Mark Bartelstein.
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) July 11, 2013
Young is a Los Angeles native and a product of USC. He was then drafted in the first round by the Wizards and has bounced around to the Clippers and the 76ers in the past couple of years. Young will have to play for the minimum, since that’s all the team has to offer to free agents at this point.
To be honest, of all the wings available on the market, Young was the one who I had the most questions about should he be signed. Young is a relatively high usage, low efficiency player who has had issues with differentiating between a good shot and a bad one. Said another way, Young is a gunner. He’s also not known for his ability to create shots for others, so his ability to put the ball in the basket is about all he’s bringing to the table offensively.
That said, what Young can do is what nearly no other Laker sans Kobe has been able to do consistently: he can create his own shot at any point in the shot clock. This can be a valuable skill and it’s one that the Lakers didn’t have enough of, even with the addition of Jordan Farmar. What Young can also do is hit the occasional 3 point shot, especially if he’s taking it from above the break or the top of the key:
Young’s lack of prowess from the corners is a bit concerning and if he’s unable to knock that shot down consistently, he’s going to struggle playing on the weak side when the Lakers run their P&R sets. However, if he can continue to hit at a reasonable rate from above the break, he can still be a valuable outside threat when the Lakers run more post centric sets or HORNS when the ball isn’t kept as flat.
Young also isn’t known as a lock down defender by any stretch, but his metrics aren’t awful either. When playing SG or SF, he holds his man to a PER of 14.2 which is right around league average. And, based off his on/off numbers in Philadelphia last year, the 76ers defense stayed flat whether he was in the game or not. There are worse things in the world than being a neutral defender and if Young can channel is size and relative athleticism into simply playing hard on that end of the floor the Lakers could have done a lot worse on that side of the ball by signing a different player.
So, in the end, considering his contract and his skill set, this is a pretty good signing. Young will have his nights where he’s hot and knocking down ridiculous PUJITs and the crowd will love him. And there will be nights where he drives everyone crazy with his shot selection and gunning when making the easy pass would be the better option. This is who Young has been his entire career so I don’t expect that to change now. However, considering the Lakers’ lack of depth on the wing and need for more players who can create their own shots with the ability to positively impact the game with bulk scoring, Young is a nice enough get. There will be a large variance in his production from night to night, but for the minimum, that’s what you’d expect.
*Statistical support from NBA.com