The Revival of Nick Young
The Revival of Nick Young
The NBA is a business and sometimes can be hard on you. If you fail to live up to expectations you can find yourself in a tough spot. One of those who found himself struggling in the league was Los Angeles Lakers sniper Nick Young. In his debut season as a Laker in 2013-14, Young achieved a career high 17.9 points per game while shooting 43.5% from the field and 38.6% from long range. Unfortunately, in 2015-16, he achieved his career low as a Laker, posting 7.3 points per game while shooting an just 33.9% from the field.
It should be noted that Mike D’Antoni was the head coach of the Lakers when Nick Young was signed by the team. D’Antoni is a well known offensive coach, who can make the offense flourish. Young seemed to have profited from that in his first season with the Purple & Gold. Once D’Antoni got fired and Byron Scott filled his place, Young’s career with the team was downgraded. Scott is a coach who prefers old school basketball; a grit-and-grind kind of game where attacking the rim is the goal. Young is a three-point shooter who sometimes chucks up shots—this may have been the reason for his season-long struggle.
However, Scott was released from his duties in the summer of 2016 after two seasons in Los Angeles. The Lakers announced former forward and 3x NBA Champion (two as a player and one as a coach) Luke Walton as their new head coach. Walton previously worked as an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, coaching the likes of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and the star-studded Golden State Warriors team. It was made clear that Walton will try to improve the Lakers’ offense and guide young players using the knowledge he picked while working for the Warriors.
According to Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report, Nick Young was on the way out during this past offseason. Turmoil in the front office and poor play were a few reasons Los Angeles wanted to replace Young.
“I would frankly be surprised if Nick Young is on the Lakers’ roster at the start of the season,” said Ding in August, as quoted by Lakers Nation. ”They’ve been trying to trade him for a while. They’re still trying to trade him. They are willing to even buy him out if necessary to move on.”
The Lakers decided to keep young into the 2016-17, and he has played well… as a starter. With his back to the wall, Young has something to prove. In 18 games played this season—with all of them as a starter—the 31-year-old sharpshooter is averaging 13.3 points per game on an above average 45.8% from the field in 25 minutes per game. It isn’t just Young’s offense so far in the season, he has shown some improvements on the defensive end. It is not a secret that Young is the offensively oriented player, but to see him improving the defense should be praised.
Nick Young managed to hit a game-winning three-pointer against the Oklahoma City Thunder last week, proving why Los Angeles brought him back. With 13.9 seconds remaining, Los Angeles was trailing by one bucket and needed a bucket. “Swaggy P” knocked down a clutch three-point bomb to seal the game for the Lakers, defeating Oklahoma City, 111-109.
Unfortunately, though, Young strained his calf muscle against the New Orleans Pelicans this week and is set to be out for the next 2-4 weeks. At first it was thought Young has strained his achilles, but the MRI results showed his calf muscle got strained.
It’s been a “win-win” situation for Young and the Lakers this year. Hopefully, his recovery won’t take too long and will continue his stellar play when he returns. Young still has one season left on his contract with the Lakers after this season. However, the fourth year of his contract is a Player Option so he can test the market if he chooses to. “Swaggy P’s” career has been revived; it’s up to him to keep up the good work.