Nick Young is Way Better Coming Off the Bench

Daniel Rapaport —  November 6, 2013

Earlier, I wrote a piece encouraging Nick Young to leave his ego at the door for the betterment of the team. In order to cash in on his talent, I reasoned, Young needed to evolve from the shameless gunner he’s been throughout his NBA career in order to fit Mike D’Antoni’s run and gun style that relies heavily on fluid ball movement.

And while its an unfathomably small sample size, Nick Young has shown no signs of taking my advice. He’s been the same quick-triggered, overconfident gunner that he’s always been. In the home opener vs. the Clippers, Young had a classic Nick Young game-he crossovered and step-backed his way to 13 points on 3-10 shooting with a grand total of 0 assists. The performance looked pretty, sure, but that’s about it; TNT cut to Kobe shaking his head in disgust after Young missed one of the many contested jumpers he seems to shoot each and ever game.

In his next two starts, Young combined to score 12 points on 3-12 shooting and did so in similar shameless fashion. It almost seems at times that Young cares more about how cool he looks playing basketball than how well he’s doing it. Nick Young accomplished something in only three games that I previously thought impossible: he managed to be benched by Mike D’Antoni for shooting too much! I could sit here and tear the man apart, but Kobe–as Kobe always seems to do–hit the nail on the head as to how Laker fans felt about Nick Young’s start better than I ever could have with this legendary death stare.

After D’Antoni benched Young in favor of Xavier Henry, something curious happened. In the first half of his first game off the bench against the Hawks, Young had three assists. I’m not even one bit joking when I pose the question, was that his career high for assists in a half? His strong play carried over to the second half, and Young looked like a much more willing passer than he had in the previous three games.

In tonight’s game against the Mavericks, Young was a bright spot, scoring a team-high 21 points on an efficient 8-12 shooting. I’ve always thought Young was more fit to come off the bench- he’s simply too one-dimensional to start on an NBA team with hopes of making the playoffs. Young’s more fit to be an instant-offense sixth man, a change of pace guy who can create his own shot and light it up against second units across the league.

We knew coming into the season that someone would have to fill Kobe’s void in the starting lineup and do all that they can to try and make up for Kobe’s scoring production. It seems that Xavier Henry is more suited to be the player who starts while giving the team an aggressiveness it needs, while Young gives the team that scoring punch I hoped he’d give while starting but in a bench role instead. This Laker rotation is a work in progress, for sure- MDA’s been playing with different lineups and substitution patterns (still not enough Jordan Hill…)–but one thing seems clear: Nick Young will be this team’s sixth man, and a good one at that.

Daniel Rapaport


to Nick Young is Way Better Coming Off the Bench

  1. daniel: can appreciate the positive spin on the nick young thing. we just hope he doesn’t spin himself into the 3rd unit. we already got enough of them there.

    Go lakers


  2. Kobe death stares should be required viewing for all coaches. Learn it. Work on it in the mirror. Surprise yourself with it when passing reflective surfaces on walks down the street. Every team has at least one player that requires a proper death stare, for his, and the team’s own good.

    I’ll slip quickly into the utterly surreal. Did Kobe spend one of his sleepless nights flipping channels and come upon those Johnny Cash, Patsy Klein informercials? I fully expect Kobe to announce himself the day he returns to the lineup, using a Memphis drawl, “Hi, I’m Kobe Bryant”… and boom off he goes into the first licks of Mamba Mode. Can we call #6 The Ring of Fire? Kobe, never go away.


  3. Kobe shaking his head in disgust is not a good way to get respect from your teammates… During the Time Out Kobe just had to explain why it was a bad shot selection instead of showing up his teammate…


  4. News flash…

    Everyone is better coming off the bench playing with a dribble penetrating PG (Farmar) and not playing with slow moving stiffs (Pau, Nash, Blake)


  5. Great article!


  6. Aaron: Your problem is that you are too focused on the big picture : )
    You need to learn to appreciate the finer points. The ship may be taking on water rapidly, but the ship’s bar is still open, and we can still decide which of the fine liquors to drink.
    P. Ami: Yes – the highlight of the whole night yesterday was KB’s interview. How cool did he look? And the way he said that 12-25 was just “coincidental” – loved it.
    Team: I said we needed to go 1-1 on this Texas trip or it was big trouble. Well – there are dark clouds on the horizon. I noticed in the last game thread that fan sentiment was dramatically down. I don’t want to think about what it would be like after a DH beat down. We need to avoid that.


  7. Let’s look on the bright side. Based on the first few games we’ve seen, the Lakers won’t need to throw games in order to make the lottery. There are 20 teams of 30 with a better record in the early going.

    Is that going to change much? Naw.




  9. now let me see u write the 2 steves should come off the bench or stay in the locker room.


  10. Aaron: You are right! As a player, they would want to play with the youngsters. The only way you respect old basketball players is when they are still contributing…(see Andre Miller). K-Man even looks more energized playing with the second unit.

    I love it when basketball fans only talk about offense, until the losses mount. Then the discussion switches to defense.

    I fear Kobe returning because he’ll try to keep the Lakers competitive, and I’m not sure his body will respond to that task.


  11. Jeanie is still my “favorite”
    “Mike Brown” him – It is the 5 game point after all
    And all of this on the day before the IPO. The Lakers will stop at nothing to stay in the news : )


  12. I know it’s early, but I fear Nick Young may actually prove to be ‘way better’ *never* coming off the bench. Watching him feels a bit like watching a junior high school kid show off to his friends how he’s got all of Kobe’s moves down pat, only then through some bizarre Disney-esque deus ex machina – shazam! – the kid ends up actually playing for the lakers (and trying to guard monta ellis).

    I can kind of, sort of, accept what the Lakers are doing big picturewise — I think it’s right that they are putting all their eggs in the 2014/15/16 basket — and along the way, I can live with their mediocrity (or worse) if it’s expressed through hard work (Hill), a good redemption story (Henry), declining niceguy greats (Pau, Nash) or even an enthusiastic goofball (Sacre Bleu!). On the other hand, there’s Nick Young…

    My solution: in unwinnable games, let season ticket holders have a couple of minutes on the court, one at a time… how cool would it be to see a lineup of: Farmar, Xavier Henry, Fat Guy from Section 106 who’s always yelling at the refs, Hill, Gasol?


  13. It’s not that the Lakers are bad. It’s most everyone is better.

    Watched Orlando tonight. Better
    Watched Pelicans. Way better
    Watched Suns. Way better.

    Most teams are much better this year.
    Except the Lakers.
    The Jimmy years!


  14. if young is 1 way u got a lot of no way players on this team, write about them.


  15. Does this really require its own thread?


  16. On a slightly different topic, the Lakers are allowing an average of 109 pts. per game. There is only one team that is worse–the Clippers (surprisingly) at 109.6. But the Clippers play at such a fast pace that their games often become shoot outs. Therefore, the Lakers’ stat may very well reflect that they (the Lakers) actually have the worst defense in the league. I don’t recall this ever happening to a Lakers team before.

    So…how do we stop the bleeding? I suggest 3 strategies:

    1) Play Jordan Hill more minutes (sorry to mention it again but we’re in desperate straits and it bears repeating);

    2) Play Wes Johnson more minutes at the 2 and/or 3; he’s not a lock-down defender exactly but he’s the best we have on the perimeter; in other words, we need him on the perimeter (not at the 4) and we need Hill down low;

    3) Kurt Rambis must somehow get through to these players and get them to ratchet up the intensity; if we don’t have great individual defenders, then fine; but they should at least play some semblance of team defense. (Is that asking too much?)

    Call me old-fashioned. But I believe that when you score 104 points, you should win by 10, not lose by 19. The Lakers’ defense, then, is not only porous; it may, as mentioned above, be the worst in the entire league.

    This can not continue. It should be addressed immediately.


  17. Mid wilshire, when you score 104 pts all you need to do is give up 103.


  18. Mid-Wilshire,
    The Lakers are 27th in Defensive Efficiency on the season. The Clippers are last. As an aside, the Lakers have played the teams ranked 1st (Clippers), 2nd (Mavs), 4th (Warriors), 7th (Hawks), and 9th (Spurs) in Offensive Efficiency this season. (As an aside, the Rockets are ranked 3rd.)

    There’s an argument to be made that those teams rank as high as they do in OEff because they’ve played the Lakers — a bad defensive team. However, history tells us several of those teams will likely rank in the top 10 of OEff all season. In other words, it’s early and yes the Lakers’ D has been bad, but some of that is definitely related to quality of opponent on that side of the ball.


  19. You forgot one thing Mid. Force Nash to retire. His plus minus and point differential along with his 29% shooting is an embarrassment. While your at it someone needs to question the basketball IQ that signed a 38 year old often injured and painfully slow PG in a league filled with young quick PGs.


  20. Don’t worry, Carmelo is coming next year. In any case, Farmar, Xavier, Johnson, Kelley and Hill. That would be a fun hustle team. Better than Nash, Blake, Young, Williams, Pau(Pau tho betr to start offense).

    Nash needs to visit Stockton’s doc and choripractor(I’m not joking). That guy could still play with young guys @40.

    If Lakers get Carmelo(if NYK continues to stink he is LA bound) and a Young perimeter defender(Deng) or Athletic Center(Cousins) to go with a 1st rounder… That would help KB end on a high note.

    But they still need the right head coach that immediately has the attention of that Locker room, esp Kobe.


  21. I will admit that I am in ‘the Lakers should tank’ camp. I’m no doctor but it seems far fetched that Kobe comes back at at a level that actually elevates the play of this team.

    If everything falls into place the Lakers can rebuild quickly. A high draft pick gives us a building block. Did anyone notice that Lance Stephenson will be a 23 yr old unrestricted FA (and the Pacers have cap issues). Greg Monroe is a 23 yr old restricted FA (the Pistons also face cap issues). Gordon Haywood is a 23 yr old restricted FA ( Utah has some tough cap space questions as well).

    I’m just saying that the road to recovery does not have to take forever. This will likely be a long season for Laker fans. But if the FO drafts well and spends FA money wisely we could be on the upswing soon enough.


  22. Ed –

    Obviously, I prefer getting younger FAs and as you pint out there may be a number available. As a unrestricted FA Stephenson is attractive – but only if Kobe is forced to retire. I like Monroe and with the Josh Smith signing the Pistons maybe forced to pick between he and Drummond for an extension. I hear they like Drummond more. Hayward would have to have a breakout year for me to want him and if he did the Jazz would match. So while a quick rebuild is possible it will take some lucky breaks as well.

    Sorry stucktrader I wouldn’t touch Carmelo or Deng – too much mileage. Cousins already signed an extension or I would assume that the Lakers would want to pursue him as a restricted FA.


  23. what makes a great player great is that he perfroms pretty much the same whether the home crowd is with him or against him. younger players and less confident players, regardless of their talk, usually perform better when they feel love from the crowd rather than hate. consistent winning is something that’s learned, that’s the stability that a seasoned vet brings.

    there’s a marked difference in the home and away performances. they call it energy, aggressiveness, it was there in the home games, but missing(completely) in the road games. this team can’t afford to not be rabid every game. if they give a normal effort, they won’t win. they don’t have the “talent”. they will be the horrible team that everyone fears.

    if the Lakers can manage to give a consistent hard effort, they’ll be a Cinderella story.

    it’s up to the team to decide if they care and it’s far to early to say that they won’t get it together. time is ticking away this season even though it’s only been 5 of 82 games, but it’s still not time to panic. regardless of whether D’Antoni is a good or a bad coach in anyone’s opinion, these two road losses are on the players. it’s quite clear that the players did not do what they are paid to do in those two road losses.

    it is time to wash that barfy feeling out of my mouth though. a good effort, even if they lose tomorrow will do the job.


  24. I find it interesting that the consensus was that the Lakers are DEEP at the guard position. Are we really deep because of talent or because we have that many players there?

    Steve Nash PER: 7.9 (Starter)
    Steve Blake PER: 9.0 (Starter)
    Jordan Farmar PER: 14.6

    I’m not sure but I believe the “standard” or league average is 15. This stat is far from perfect but it is measuring efficiency on different levels offensively. To put it in perspective I know its early but Derrick Rose had a 1.77 PER before last nights game.

    And with whatever production we do get offensively it is usually negated defensively.

    On a positive note, it looks like the days of Pick and POP are coming to an end on a regular basis anyways. D’Antoni apparently has come to this site and has read my constant groaning and whining basically begging for a hard roll to the basket. D’Antoni states that it should be a roll in the Pick and Roll situations 90% of the time. Have to have to have to do this with Pau. Kaman I really don’t care so much because he is injury prone and is shooting a respectable percentage.

    I think one thing about the rolling aspect that no one really is talking about is if it is a matter of trust…From what I see in the 5 minutes a game that Steve Nash is playing, I see Pau dive more often and harder to the basket. Farmar and Blake for whatever reason not only don’t make that pass on a regular basis but the roll man isn’t even going hard to the basket. Farmar really needs to learn the little things that Nash is doing…back screens for bigs, flex screens for bigs, and learning how to really run an offense….basically doing what Nash has been doing all career and finding ways to make teammates better or he will always be a backup player.
    So D’Antoni I appreciate you reading this blog and if you have any further questions please feel free to shoot me an email.


  25. Ed, I can definitely understand where you are coming from. However, there are atleast 5 teams that are outright worst than us right now, teams which we cannot ‘out-tank’ … Your suggestion, atleast how I see it, is to be the worst possible team we can be, at the expense of season ticket holders and only to land the 6th or 7th overall pick.

    Utah Jazz 0-5 (Andrew Wiggins, what what)
    Denver Nuggets 0-3 (I think they can expand their games but miss playoffs still)
    Sacramento Kings 1-3 (bound to be better this year but not a playoff team still)
    Memphis Grizzlies 2-3 (I’m predicting they miss the playoffs unless they make changes)
    New Orleans 2-3 (will require youngsters to gel before they get anywhere)
    Portland Trailblazers 2-2 (sure they can make the playoffs, they would be our #1 opponent for 7th or 8th seed
    Phoenix Suns 3-2 (Eric Bledsoe might bring them to the playoffs)

    Boston Celtics 1-4 (win against Jazz)
    Atlanta Hawks 2-2 (mediocre team)
    Milwaukee Bucks 2-2 (mediocre team)
    Washington Wizards 1-3 (they should be better but they have a worse coach)
    Cleveland Cavaliers 2-3 (upcoming team but will live or die with Kyrie)

    Might as well try for playoffs, right?


  26. Staying on the course and planning ahead:

    The 2014 season of the NBA is pegged to raise its salary cap to 62.5M. This is according to expert cappologists Eric Pincus and Larry Coon. That said, the Lakers, having only committed salaries from 3 players namely: Steve Nash, Robert Sacre and Elias Harris. Nick Young has a player option, which he most-likely would opt out of. Should all 4 of them remain with the team, we have a total committed salary of 11.8M and a cap space of 50.7M.

    How do you spend 50.7M exactly?

    Kobe is an unrestricted Free Agent. His status is still a question mark. His next contract is a question mark, for how long he can play at a high level is a question mark. All we can do is guess. 30M over 2 years, 15M per year with the 2nd year a player option?

    Pau Gasol is also has his contract situation up in the air. With wobbly knees I doubt he commands the same (or close to it) contract as this one. Atleast I can guarantee you I will not be paying him close to 19M. 12 million is a number I would seriously consider.

    That leaves us with… 23 million. This is Carmelo Anthony or Lebron James money, and only if one of those 2 sign with us. Realistically, if the targets shift, we could sign 3 quality players with whats left. If you leave out Pau, it can be as high as 5.

    The next question then begs: How much priority do you give Jordan Farmar, Xavier Henry and Jordan Hill?

    Will you waive Steve Nash via stretch provision and gain 6 million more of cap space? or will you just wait out 2015 and wait for the better Free Agent class of Rondo, Lamarcus Aldridge and others?


  27. Every game tells you something, but it is probably too early to be worried about the standings. Charlotte was 7-5 after 12 games last year.


  28. Warren:

    While I am a firm member of the ‘tank’ camp – its not because the Lakers will have to go out of their way to be awful. I simply beleive Kobe will need more time to heal – and without Kobe to hold the ship together the Lakers don’t have the talent to ‘try’ for the playoffs. By the time Kobe is healthy (possibly after the New Year) his return will be like lipstick on a pig – the team wil be too far gone to make the playoffs.

    My gut says the Lakers win 27 games this year. No they won’t be the worst team in the league but they’ll be among the bottom 5. A top 5 pick in this draft provides a good building block to go with a young FA provides the foundation for a rebuild. The unrestricted FAs in 2015 are even more attractive.

    Logic tells you that the bottom is coming for the Lakers – why not try to minimize the duration. Season seat holders will bolt if you suck for the long term. They will stay if you have a talent worth building around – like a top 5 pick in this next draft.


  29. I’ve been holding off on commenting because RR has pretty much summed up my gestalt view of the LAL team so far, at this point, through five games. (Qualifiers not accidental). We are still so early in the season, and the team is only just beginning to scratch the surface in terms of aligning the new parts that are here. Simply put, neither MDA nor the rest of us even “know what we don’t know” yet. So if LAL gets pounded by HOU in the road, in a game that D12 probably has had circled since he figured out it was happening, let’s not overreact.


  30. LakerFanatic: I think Mitch and Jim read this blog, as they finally obtained DH after a year long lobbying campaign : ) Kobe also reads it, as he loves to track his milestones via the Kobe Alert : ) I am not sure about MD however. If he does read it, I can certainly say that he does not follow the wishes/advice, as I have made my desires clear since prior to his even starting on the job : )
    rr: “Every game tells you something” Indeed. And tonight’s game? What type of story will it be? Drama? Comedy? or Tragedy?


  31. Ed:

    It’s just too soon to tell how this all plays out. I am optimistic that Kobe comes back sooner than later and is healthy enough to make a difference. In that scenario the Lakers could have the ingredients for a magical season. I can see your point as the possibility of the wheels coming off the wagon is also present. We simply won’t know until Kobe takes the floor.


  32. I’m looking forward to tonight’s game. I hope Pau/Kaman/Hill bring it as DH will be sky high to shove it in our faces. Outside of Howard I think we match up nicely. I think a win here changes the outlook for us. Maybe as Warren says, we can ‘try’ for the playoffs.


  33. Ed, this is how I see it playing out.

    Based on my list of teams, the Lakers are making the playoffs. The biggest reason is because there are just too many teams that suck more and more teams are openly tanking (Orlando, Boston, Utah, Philadelphia, Phoenix) based on the moves they made. Those 5 will seriously compromise your hope of a top 5 pick.

    Then there are those middle-of-the-pack teams like the Hawks, Bucks, Blazers, and Kings which will surprise you. They could be in for a middling campaign and just shut it down midseason. This leaves the Lakers between a rock and a hard place. So would you throw away the entire season for the 10th overall pick (only)?

    Then there’s the issue of cap space. While most teams would tell you that the draft is key for winning a championship (takes too long) the Miami Heat is a testament that Cap Space and the right market (oh thats us alright) can be a game-changer. Since that goes for us, we use that.

    The Lakers will have 50.7M in cap space. If we waived Nash (saved him the face of being traded to a team he doesn’t like) our cap space would then become 57.2M.

    It is therefore ‘more productive’ to try and win even though we know we won’t be winning the championship this year, use the season to find gems (looks like we found Henry and Farmar) and find familiarity with our team that we can use moving forward. This is what I call developing good habits and having a winner’s mindset.

    I hate to mention it, but I will just to prove this same point, we would have ‘more’ assets and more guys moving forward if we made a trade.


  34. rr: “Every game tells you something” Indeed. And tonight’s game? What type of story will it be? Drama? Comedy? or Tragedy?

    One never knows. I am generally very skeptical about the idea of statement games or message games, but I suspect that Howard does to some extent see this game that way. Kobe’s absence reduces that angle a bit, of course, but Howard will obviously be looking to put up big numbers and to help his new team blow out his old one, and I think that is what most observers are expecting.

    People may recall that Orlando beat the Lakers in LA last year, so our squad is now on the other end of that dynamic tonight.

    D’Antoni should not IMO start Blake tonight (or ever). I would get Johnson and Henry out there; that is the team’s best shot to match up a little with Harden, Parsons, and Garcia.


  35. Warren –

    Why are you so sure that Kobe signs an extension. I recall an interview with him from a number of years ago, where Kobe stated that he did not want to hang on and be a supporting player averaging 18 pts a game. In my mind Kobe retires if he can’t perform to the level he wants to.

    How does your perspective of what moves the Lakers make change if you knew Kobe would not continue playing beyond this year?


  36. Scott, that’s simple: the hunger for #6 is greater than the ‘supporting role’ comment. While its uncertain how he’d look when he comes back, I fully expect him to be a 22-24ppg player and is a top dawg for the Lakers. What he needs is his Pippen, or a player we can call his 1A if he is supposedly going to be 1B. The same reason why the Lakers will push hard for Lebron (unlikely) or Melo (very likely) beside Kobe. If both would come over, which accounts only for 0.0000000001% but possible nonetheless, Kobe takes minimum and plays beside these 2.


  37. Scott:

    Mitch made a similar comment this off season about Kobe and an extension. I thought it was simply a bargaining tactic – we won’t offer an extension to Kobe now because he may not want to play if its not at the level he wants to perform at.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I’d take Kobe if he averaged 18 a game – I hope that is enough for him. Ed, or someone above mentioned FA’s that the Lakers could look at (Stephenson/Monroe/Hayward) I don’t think any of them average 18 a game.


  38. Morgan,

    Hayward is 19ppg, Monroe is 17ppg and 11rpg, Stephenson is 16ppg.


  39. Young was brought in as a poor man’s Kobe. His play cannot be considered unexpected. Although long term I think he would make more sense coming off the bench as a willing shooter when needed.

    The 2 Steves disprove basic math. 1 Steve > 0 Steves and 1 Steve > 2 Steves.


  40. Guys we have a whole season to play out before we get to the draft and free agency. Might be a little pre-mature to kick around what happens in the offseason, dont you think?


  41. Per Warren: ‘Hayward is 19ppg, Monroe is 17ppg and 11rpg, Stephenson is 16ppg.’

    And they are all 23 yrs old. These are the types of FAs the Lakers should try to sign – youngsters who haven’t reached their peak yet. Can you imagine these guys combined with a top draft pick? Now that would be the foundation for the next Lakers Dynasty.

    I can dream, can’t I?


  42. __________is Way Better Coming Off the Bench. ( fill in the blank) ; will be tomorrow’s caption after the beatdown tonite vs rockets at toyota center.

    coach d’antoni should consider starting the 3rd unit in attempt to diffuse the rockets early and often by doing the obvious: foul, foul, foul, foul and foul the you know who. third grade basketball tactics is unnerving to one’s psyche and you know who has a problem with that.

    Go Lakers


  43. George: You are of course correct – however what is going on is a hedging of expectations. Many fans were predicting big things for the season. What we are seeing is a preliminary readjustment just in case we get thumped tonight. For myself – I am expecting us to get creamed, however the last time I said that was the Clippers game. My overall expectations are not changing however. I still see our upside as eeking into the playoffs under a good KB scenario, vs. falling to 12 or so under a bad one.


  44. Ed – yes, if that is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow I think Laker nation would gladly take our lumps this season. I think we are in agreement that if we are going to sign FAs let’s go ‘young and peaking’ versus ‘old and peaked’.


  45. Vasheed, the bysteverean theory should have been taught in training camp.

    RR: Right with you on the never start Blake. Career back up that somehow has managed to start too many games for the Lakers through the course of his contract.


  46. the other Stephen November 7, 2013 at 10:47 am

    By the way, I’m going to the basketball art exhibit in Santa Monica that Darius mentioned on Twitter ( The event runs for a month, but the artists should be attending the opening this Saturday afternoon. I’ve followed J.O. Applegate at Bouncex3 for a while, so I’m looking forward to meeting him, but there are also quite a few other artists I haven’t heard of before. Now if only Josh Frankel and Mark Haven Britt from Garbage Time All-Stars, one of the original basketball comic sites, could be there, the ensemble would be complete. From the event updates, it seems like there’s going to be more than just digital art (i.e., sculptures, etc.) so things are looking pretty interesting. Anyone else thinking of checking it out?