Considering how it ended last season with Nick Young depressed, and then on the trade market all summer long, and considering his personal business was all out in the street, not to mention the rumors of being waived to wherever, Nick Young has done what he does best. He saved his Swaggy self and his NBA career. Next stop for Young was China and that would not have gone well at all. But, the negative capital Young has built up over his career with a reputation of not being serious but playful to the nth degree, just wants to entertain, unable to focus, kept him in the Lakers fold for training camp. There he was challenged by Luke Walton.
Nick responded and has had a strong start and even being out for a couple of weeks because of a sore calf strain is good news for the continually optimistic Young.
This year, Swaggy is not jacking up a lot of shots but he is shooting a career best 45.8% so maybe that’s the key: less is more. His three ball has never been better, 41.8%. He has never averaged 6 threes per game, not even when playing for D’Antoni, the Nick whisperer. Nick thrived under shoot it or move it basketball and the D’Antoni criticize players less regime. But Luke Walton is even better for Young.
He is a 94% free throw shooter which has never happened to Young, concentrating when at the line. Somewhere there is a lesson here. Young is scoring 13.3 points a game, just 5th best in his career, but it’s not all about scoring. In terms of his on court impact, Nick Young is ranked 14th among shooting guards.
|Shooting Guards 2016-17||FG%||3-Point%||PER||SG Rank (Real Plus-Minus)||Offensive Rating|
It was a tough road last season with Byron Scott coaching him. Scott, who was in his second round of Swaggy, was less than enthusiastic. In year one, Scott found Nick amusing and energetic. In his second year, Scott was never happy. Young had worn him down only because Scott had a hard time understanding the Swaggy thing. The Swag is about happiness and fun, not attention to detail and winning. Nick Young is an entertainer. That is the reason the Lakers couldn’t trade him. Nick Young isn’t a secret.
The league knows who he is. Young’s $5 million salary (he makes the same as D’Angelo Russell) is pedestrian by today’s standards, it is a movable salary. But there wasn’t much of a market for a one-dimensional entertainer who is known to get depressed when things don’t go his way and who is pretty one-dimensional and who shuts down when faced with hard ass coaches like Byron Scott and Larry Brown. Defense and Nick Young have never been friends. They haven’t been strangers. They haven’t been introduced.
A lot of the talk has been that Young is playing defense. He’s not, not really. What he is doing is making an effort. He has had isolated moments but nothing consistent. His defensive rating is the same as it was last year and is the second worst of his career. Defensive impact wise, he is ranked 84th among shooting guards (Defensive Real Plus-Minus). So everything isn’t all roses.
His mid-range is in the toilet which is typical Nick Young. He is not going to drive into the paint and shoot. He makes shots at the rim and long twos which he is making 63% of the time, a career high. Under Scott, his accuracy on long two’s was worse than Kobe Bryant’s, 37%. So he has come back in a huge way.
Young has been known for the 4-point play. It still amazes that defenders try to foul him. He’s not Kobe Bryant-ing it with the pump fake. It’s the usual rise and shoot.
4-Point Victims are the Nick Young bread and butter. Here are some of the unlucky ones.
P.J. Tucker (Suns), Kurt Hinrich (Bulls), Tobias Harris (Magic), DeMarcus Cousins (Kings), Shabazz Muhammad (Wolves), Kent Bazemore (Warriors, Hawks), LeBron James (Heat), Tony Parker (Spurs).
But nothing said Swaggy like his interception of a game winner meant for Lou Williams that Nick turned into a three point play and ultimate game winner, stealing the spotlight from Russell Westbrook.
Young is making 43.4% of his catch and shoot buckets and it doesn’t matter if it is from two or from three. Same with his pull ups but the three ball goes in a little less, 36.8%. He touches the ball 32.1 times a game and gets it in the post 0.2 times so we know what Swaggy is out there to do. Hit long shots. Smile while doing it. Interject fun into a league that is serious 24-7.
It’s been a great redemption year for Swaggy and if he keeps it up he will have done the unthinkable, gone from should be traded to Most Important Laker.
photo via llananba