Nick Young couldn’t possibly have felt great about his Lakers signing Lou Williams this summer. The redundancy between the two is fairly obvious if simplified down to layman levels. Young and Williams are both chuckers best used off the bench to bring an immediate scoring punch to whichever lineup they’re joining on the court.
So, Young took the type of measures any normal person would if threatened with replacement by their employer: get a Tupac tattoo on the arm previously reserved for buckets. In all seriousness, though, trying to figure out what to expect from Young this season is pretty difficult given the several variables at play heading into the 2015-16 campaign.
First, we need to understand how we got to this point. Two years ago, Mike D’Antoni’s system lent itself to success in the form of spot-up jumpshots in efficient parts of the floor and isolations against defenses spread thin by excellent spacing. As a result, Young enjoyed a career season and earned the contract the Lakers seemed pretty quick to want to shed this offseason.
So, the question begs asking: is Young the player we saw under D’Antoni or the punchline to the joke that was last season? The answer, as usual, is somewhere in the middle and, as such, he still deserves a spot on an NBA roster. But, Young has some roadblocks to overcome if he hopes to flip the narrative.
First, his relationship with Byron Scott must improve if he hopes for any of the consistent playing time he’ll need to show his worth. The tardiness off the court and lack of effort on it cannot continue to be a storyline moving forward. If none of that happens, we might see the rare example of the reverse Lakers role player bump in value. He’d join a pretty rare group of players who failed to improve their career outlook in Los Angeles.
Second, his natural position is pretty crowded. We already covered what Lou Williams brings off the bench. He’s the reigning Sixth Man of the Year and should see consistent minutes off the bench at the two. Before him, Jordan Clarkson should probably lead the Lakers in minutes played per game. Between those two, and whichever minutes Kobe plays at that spot, playing time will be hard to come by. There’s always the chance Young could win minutes from those guys, but based on fit and the Lakers long-term goals, it’s highly unlikely.
Fortunately for Young, the Lakers are extremely thin at small forward and his size lends itself to the position. After Kobe – who probably can’t be relied upon for more than 50 games or so – Scott has very few options. Ironically, Scott will have to choose between Young and a rookie (Anthony Brown), neither of whom he’d be particularly fond of leaning on heavily, one would think. He could also try Ryan Kelly at the three, but we all saw how that went last year. Young’s histrionics off the court may get frustrating, but no one on the Lakers looks the part of small forward better than he does.
Like I said earlier, Young should not be defined by his highs or lows. Yes, Mike D’Antoni built him up to levels we probably won’t see again, but last season was pretty much a debacle from start to finish thanks to injury and his clashes with Byron. When he’s playing at his best, fans love their Swaggy P – as evidenced by the ill-fated #StaySwaggy campaign. If he plays well and simply can’t find a consistent role, there’s always the chance some team overlooks his contract for the scoring punch he’d provide.
I honestly think we’ll see some uptick in value from Young this season, in some way or another.
For Young to be successful this season, he personally needs to do the following things, probably in the following order:
1) Stop dribbling the ball. Every dribble he took last year, his FG% went down. His best ability on the offensive end is to Catch and Shoot. His Catch and Shoot eFG% was actually pretty good over the last 2 years, so if he can just stick to doing that, and avoid the *dribble, dribble, dribble, dribble, shoot a long 2* silliness, then his offensive value actually return to positive.
He needs to be a guy that spaces the floor, for a team that’ll have not-so-good spacing…
2) Give a damn on defense. He’s never going to be MWP, but if he just tried a little more on that end, like he did in ’13/14, he’ll actually be a decent player if coupled with #1.
3) I guess listen to Scott should be the 3rd thing? Scott misused him and a lot of other players last year, but there’s no way Young regains any value if he isn’t on the court.
-Personally, I hope he starts the season well, and is dumped in December/the trade deadline. He’s redundant and not a good player. And he isn’t on a great contract for what he “provides” (his $ is OK, it’s the years that’s the issue).
Then maybe Lakers can bring in a more natural SF (Dorell Wright?) or someone who’ll provide good veteran leadership (Mbah a Moute?).
1) Have Jim reach out to his friend Marty McFly to borrow the Delorean with the flux capacitor from Dr. Brown
2) Go back to the summer of 2014
3) Do a sign and trade with Nick Young for a usable asset
4) If the above not available then sign Nick to a one year deal with a team option on year two
Lets not act like we will see some new phenomenon wing player that plays defense, and scores within the offense from Nick Young. Going in to his 8 or 9th season if he was going to alter his game it would’ve been 2 seasons ago with the clippers. The fact of the matter is you have a player who can score the ball with the best of them but just will not become a diverse player that knows how to be effective without trying to score the most on the team.
You trade him or you live with what he is….
Young is under contract through 2017/18 (with that last season being a player option). His career numbers were average to begin with so his nice year of 2013/14 was a pleasant surprise but not supportive of the contract the Lakers gave him.
It should also be noted that Young was a free agent and was playing for MDA. The combination of the contract drive and an offensive minded coach was a nice combination in Nick’s favor and should have been flags for the FO not to risk painting themselves in a corner with a long term deal.
The rising cap makes his deal less painful but the bottom line remains — he’s not a tradeable commodity. He’s normally the type of player that get’s thrown into a deal should the Lakers trade something of value. So unless the Lakers are trading one of the kids I think Nick stays through the end his deal.
The issue is how to make him an asset for the team these next few years? I think he and Williams just become instant offense off the bench and Byron just lets them shoot away.I’m of the camp that say the Lakers will struggle this year on both sides of the ball so Young/Williams will likely provide 30% of our offense (something like 30 out of 98 points per game).
Jamal Johnosn says
I hope the organization can get more from him. At this point, it can’t get much for him. Kareem has become the team’s unofficial center-whisperer. Is there someone to bring in to improve Young’s defense? It may be presumptuous to assume that he only needs to care more or work harder. Defense is definitely a commitment, but also a skill. The organization made this (dubious) investment. It should probably do more to protect it.
2006 Kobe says
If Jordan Clarkson and D’angelo start, with kobe at the 3, I really can’t see Nick and Lou in the same lineup coming off the bench. Best case scenario if they do come off the bench together, it’s with a lineup of players that don’t need the ball to be effective (Nance, Tarik, Ant. Brown, or Bass), that way, most of the scoring load will go to Lou and Nick, which is completely fine with me. Plus, along with being a scoring spark off the bench, Lou is a guy who has averaged a decent 3 or 4 assists in the past. I don’t see a fit for Jabari Brown on this roster. His tunnel vision at times is hard to watch. Nick Young, along with his good size, is a more proven scorer with the ball (unless Jabari somehow outplays Nick in the training camp and in the preseason, Jabari should be let go).
If Byron’s offense this season will look similar to what we saw in the summer league, we’ll be seeing a lot of pointless cuts and screens that ultimately leads up to an isolation play or pick and roll at the end of the shot clock, and I’d much rather have Lou running the PnR at the end of the clock than Nick playing one on one.
If, however, Byron doesn’t start D’angelo (which he definitely should), and puts Lou in the starting unit with kobe and jordan, Nick will be much more effective, as he’ll get lots of catch and shoot opportunities with Russell running the point. And if Julius ends up coming off the bench with them, that adds another person that can create their own shot, or even push the ball in transition and make passes, which is something we know julius is capable of doing. I think this would be the most successful strategy for the Lakers, however, I’d much rather start D’angelo and Jordan together in the backcourt to get them as much playing time together as possible. #FUTURE
Never liked NY’s contract. Too long and he is not the type who helps attract superstars. Kobe, Williams, and Young on the same roster – we must have been thinking we were gong to be playing with more than one ball. We have spoken many times on this board about Young. The tone has gradually shifted from “fun”, to “doghouse”, to the current: “How do we salvage this?”. Yet another situation where we are trying to make the best of a bad situation that we created.
I think your encapsulation of the narrative surrounding Nick Young is fair. To be honest, I almost feel that the FO has to bite the bullet on this one and reaffirm their commitment to Young, along the lines of Mitch’s recent statements. Despite his flaws as a player, Swaggy loves the Lakers. And Kobe loves the Lakers. Even though their approaches to the game appear like polar opposites, their ying and yang may be supportive of the team’s young kids. Having those vets who are committed to the team can be a really powerful tool to building chemistry and long-term commitment. Spurned lover is not a good look for NY or the FO, so I hope they work through last year’s angst. As has been noted, in two years, his contract may translate to 7% of the team salary, which is about right for a 7-9 rotation player. Making him happy and creating a positive locker room atmosphere seems like the smart choice given the cool market for his talents.
Nick Young is a player whose reputation precedes him. He has played for four teams in 9 years and has averaged 42.3% shooting over his career (but only 36.6% last year), 2.0 rebounds per game, 1.1 assists, and .5 steals in 24 minutes. He completely wore out his welcome in Washington, LA (with the Clippers), and Philly before coming to the Lakers. Now — not surprisingly — the Lakers can’t find anyone who wants him.
Byron Scott cannot be blamed for any frustration that he occasionally feels with Nick. Can you imagine Greg Popovich, Rick Carlisle, or any other reputable coach putting up with his antics? Not likely.
Therefore, the Lakers have few options other than the following (admittedly a long shot) — to develop Anthony Brown or Larry Nance, Jr. (if Nance is to be considered an option at the 3) as quickly as possible. Otherwise, I simply don’t see any options.
I firmly believe that Byron will have Nick on a fairly short lease this year. The problem is that there is no established veteran waiting in the wings to take his job, just one or two rookies with a dazed look in their eyes. So this is a tough one. I believe that the 3 position may be the Lakers’ most glaring weakness this year just as the lack of a rim protector was our most glaring weakness last year.
Who knows? Maybe Anthony Brown will blossom and shock us all. But we can’t count on it. All that we can do is hope that Nick Young will listen to Byron and, somehow, adjust his game, his attitude, and his priorities. But don’t count on it. I still think we need a defensive stopper at the 3. But then how do we unload Nick, especially considering that no one in the league will touch him?
– @ Robert, “Kobe, Williams, and Young on the same roster – we must have been thinking we were gong to be playing with more than one ball.” You and I are on the same page here…and this is one of the major challenges I see facing Coach Scott and our Lakers. These three guys have never met a fta they didn’t like. How is Scott going to develop the possible future of the Lakers in Russell, Randle, and Clarkson with the previously mentioned guys jacking up shots?
– Scott has his work cut out for him. Player usage rate will be an important stat for me this season. I’m not expecting the Lakers to make the post-season, nor be bad enough to qualify for the top 3 protected draft pick, so for me, this season is all about the development of the Lakers future…a future which doesn’t include Kobe, Nick, or Lou. Truly hoping Scott can make this work and not retard the growth of the young players.
In light of the comments from Robert and BCS, I thought I would repost a comment I posted a few days ago. From ( ESPN) Kevin Pelton’s Friday (7/31) Chat:
Stacy: Hi Kevin- Have you ever seen a team constructed with so many ISO/ one on one players as this current Laker roster? Kobe of course is the king of ISO play. Nick young and lou williams have to be close behind. Julius Randle looks like he’s going to need the ball a lot too. Don’t forget Russell tends to dribble around for days. This could be one guy at the top with the ball and 4 guys watching. Your take?
Kevin Pelton: And Roy Hibbert standing in the post with his hand up, waiting for a pass that never comes? It doesn’t seem to be a set of personnel optimized for offensive success, that’s for sure.
Gregory: Do you think the Lakers can compete for a playoff spot ?
Kevin Pelton: No, I don’t see a realistic scenario for that. I think they are more likely to end up with the worst record in the West than make the playoffs.
Yet another situation where we are trying to make the best of a bad situation that we created.
This has become a consistent theme of the Buss regime. Its hard enough to compete in the league as it is. There have been far too many ‘self inflicted wounds’. Its no wonder the Lakers have hit bottom — and hit it hard.
I agree that, assuming Nance Jr. can’t play the role (he is a rookie, so its a fair assumption), the Lakers roster could use a defensive-minded 3. Obviously, if the Lakers sign Upshaw, they need to make room somewhere else to get a defensive 3. However, despite the arrival of Lou Williams, Nick Young is not the first player I would sacrifice to make room.
Nick Young is obviously an incomplete player but the one thing he can do, he can do. If Nick Young is the biggest problem the Lakers have, they are a better team than I thought they were.
And paying any attention to Kevin Pelton’s comments regarding how the Lakers will look next year is a waste of time. Pelton is a stats guy only. He can sometimes provide interesting information during the season, but he is useless at predicting how new players will fit in with each other and how rookies will develop. How new players fit and how young players develop are the things that will matter to the Lakers performance next year. Stats for that won’t exist until January.
Also, Pelton is a high-priest of the “advanced analyitics” religion. He will never forgive Byron Scott for his comments last year or the Lakers for their apparent failure to embrace the new dogma. Also, Pelton is an ESPN guy and all the ESPN guys hate the Lakers on general principles.
ESPN is biased against the Lakers, but Pelton is less so than many other guys there. I have dealt with him on-line a little bit. And he is very aware that there is more to the game than numbers.
As to the rest, the bottom line on the predictions is simple: for the last two years, people who have been selling optimistic scenarios about the Lakers have been dead wrong, and the conventional wisdom, both inside and outside the Lakers internet bubble, which was that the Lakers would be putting bad, irrelevant teams on the floor, has been right. Optimists have often tried to explain that away with injuries and stealth tank narratives, but both of those arguments are very weak.
Will this year be different? Sure, it’s possible. Other teams which look like lottery material—Sacramento, Denver, Dallas, Minnesota, Portland, Phoenix, maybe Utah—could either decide to tank and/or could implode. As the season progresses, a couple almost certainly will. And it is possible that Randle and/or Russell will develop quickly, that Hibbert will make a difference, that Kobe will stay on the floor and be effective on O etc. But based on how the teams look this second, the Lakers could easily be the worst team in the conference.
One thing optimists, including Kobe, point to is the “blend of youth and experience.” But that is a nice way of saying that the Lakers don’t really have guys in the center of their primes, except maybe Hibbert, who is in a career crisis, and Williams, who is almost 29 and probably just had his best year. The Lakers don’t have anybody who is 24 or 25 years old and has established that he is a good NBA player. DS wrote about the “leveraging the vast number of playmakers” but the other way of looking at that is, as Pelton suggests, that the Lakers simply have too many guys who will need the ball, none of whom is likely to be all that efficient. And, as Mid notes above and others have noted, the Lakers do not have a solid, legit, two-way NBA small forward on the team.
I think predictions are fun but overrated; if you make enough of them, you are going to be wrong sometimes. But the sensible prediction to make about the Lakers right now is that they are going to have another bad team, with the difference this time being that Randle, Russell, and Clarkson may provide some basis for hope.
The best use of Swaggy P at this point is to just have him go to all the crappy local media appearances and fan meet and greets. It’s something he’s not too bad at and allows the actual players more time to focus on the game or rest.
It’s sad we are stuck with him for 3 more years but Dantoni has coached a lot of scrubs to a stuffed stat sheet so no point in being mad about it, just let him do the off the court stuff more and then bury him on the bench during games. That seems like a way to get the best of both worlds.
As to whether Pelton is more biased than other ESPN guys, I guess I don’t have an opinion. To me, he seems biased enough.
It’s certainly true that opinions about next season are always easy to find and, for sure, some of them are going to be wrong. What makes an opinion interesting is not the conclusion but the reasons supporting it. So, what reason can Pelton possibly give for believing the Lakers have no chance of making the playoffs and will more likely be the worst team in the West next year? For some teams you can just look at the prior year’s performance and get a good idea. You can’t do that with the Lakers because almost the entire team is different. To the extent the new players have measurable statistics, they are all clearly better than the players they are replacing. Pelton can’t have an meaningful statistical insights on any of the Lakers’ young players.
Pelton can answer the question “I don’t know” or “I don’t think so” and keep my respect. He could reasonably answer that making the playoffs would probably require at least a 25 game improvement and that is unlikely. To answer as he did just means that he hopes for that outcome.
Nobody really knows what will happen but, as a matter of fact, 20 to 25 game improvements are not that unusual. Of course, it probably won’t happen unless Russell and Randle perform at a high level and Hibbert regains some of his prior form. If Pelton wants to explain how he knows that won’t happen, I would be willing to listen.
Pelton was answering a question in a chat; he wasn’t writing a treatise or a detailed preview. In September when the projections come out, then there will be more specifics. I do know that Pelton thinks that Russell was a good pick and had him higher on his board than either Mudiay or Okafor but thinks that Russell will have a long learning curve. He has also expressed doubts about Randle, citing his overreliance on going left, lack of length, and his lack of shooting range. Also, Pelton just said it was more likely that they have the worst record than that they make the playoffs. He was pretty strong about it, but he didn’t rule totally rule the playoffs out.
As to the rookies and the stats, Pelton will do what he does: project their stats along with the other players, based on the information that he has, run the sim, and interpret the results. There will be simulated seasons that show the Lakers making post-season but most of them will not, and that is what the projection that eventually shows up on the ESPN website will reflect.
Some of the projections for teams will be wrong; others will be right. Overall they will probably be pretty helpful in projecting the season. Pelton doesn’t “know” that the Lakers won’t make the playoffs; he just thinks that it is by far the most likely outcome, based on their personnel and their coach. And if you look objectively at how the Lakers stack up today, right now, against the other fourteen teams in the West, I think that is probably right.
Unless he misquoted himself, Pelton actually did say the Lakers would not make the playoffs. He was quite clear about that. He did not say any of the many things which he could have said that would be defensible given the status of his inputs. He said it would not happen. I agree he could be right.
“No, I don’t see a realistic scenario” is strong, as I noted, but he also said “I think they are more likely to” which in effect hedges it. No one knows for sure, which is why they play the season. But as I have said a few times, defensiveness/attack mode about these kinds of things—an offhand comment made by an analyst in a chat–shows that the optimist/Pro-FO case is at the moment very weak, and it will take Russell and Randle, mostly, to change that.
Dude, Pelton’s “I think they are more likely to” was a statement that the Lakers were “more likely to” have the worst record in the West. How is that “hedging” his prediction that the Lakers are not going to make the playoffs?
Bobe Kryant says
both the organization and Nick Young need to find a way to make it work. the dude is obviously talented but his focus and inconsistency worry me. the fit between him and Lou Will should be fine if they can find a pass first point guard who can defend and control the game for just 8 to 10 minutes per game, the bench will be fine