Nick Young is back in the NBA and the NBA is better for it. Young, a jovial presence, signed a non-guaranteed deal with the Denver Nuggets and it’s a good fit because all Swaggy is being asked to do is score the ball which is what he loves.
The Nuggets have built their team around big Nikola Jokic and perimeter scorers so Swaggy will fit in with his 3-ball having no conscience. He will have plenty of space to get his shot off given the attention to combo guard Jamal Murray, a slasher and jump shot maker, and the versatile Jokic. The Nuggets are an average 3-point shot making team (16th) and so any help will be valuable as they try to remain consistent and keep their top-4 seed as they deal with injuries to key contributors (Gary Harris, Will Barton, Paul Millsap)
But Swaggy? Is that the best they could do?
Not known for defense or passing the ball and known exactly for brain freezes as well as making threes in bunches, Nick Young has a reputation of being very, very good or, at his worst, a one dimensional entertainer on the court. He has had two strong years in the 11 year career.
When he played for Luke Walton two seasons ago he had an offensive rating of 118, his best ever, and when he played for Mike D’Antoni he dropped a career high 17.9 points. The Nuggets only need a replica of that Swaggy, someone to fill in off the bench as they try to get healthy. (The Nuggets also have injured Isaiah Thomas on the roster).
In the offseason when Young went unsigned it wasn’t a surprise. He’s one dimensional. But a scorer has nine NBA lives. If he can put the ball in the hole, he can find resuscitation and redemption.
Young won a ring last year with the Warriors but didn’t have a good year. He played depending on the matchups and only managed 17 minutes a game. Young is a player that needs minutes to be effective with his style of play, meaning he can be a ball stopper, but catch and shoot is his bread and butter. With Jokic and Murray on the floor, he should get prime opportunities to drain the three.
But Denver, already a stacked offensive team, doesn’t need Swaggy. Swaggy plugs up some holes but once everyone is healthy Denver on offense is formidable. The team that needed Swaggy is Houston.
Mike D’Antoni loved coaching Nick Young in L.A. and was able to extract Nick Young career highs across the board.
The Rockets have issues scoring the ball. They are 21stin points scored. They are 23rd in field goal percentage and 24th in 3-point percentage, the latter being a huge problem since the Rockets take more threes per game than any other NBA team. They launch 42 threes but only make 33% of them which is why they have a losing record. What they feature is killing them. So why not bring on a three point shooter that fits the offense and adds points to the board?
The Rockets are one of 14 NBA teams that don’t score 110 points a game. They have two max players and are still miserable. If nothing else, if you can’t win games at least make them fun. No one in Houston is having fun.
But Swaggy has fun wherever he goes. He knew the phone would ring because this is a three point league with a fast pace that injures wing players. He told the DenverPost that he was humbled not being on a NBA roster in eleven years. “I missed it a little bit” he told Post reporter Mike Singer.
The missing is a thing of the past. Swaggy and those highlight (or lowlight) reels and the infectious smile and happiness is back.