When Nick Young came to the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2013, it seemed like a match made in heaven for both himself and the organization. The former USC Trojan was returning to Los Angeles to fit into an uptempo offense ran by then-head coach Mike D’Antoni.
As a versatile scorer, Young was a good fit to help the Lakers at the small forward position, formerly ran by Metta World Peace. And it turns out he was exactly this. Young averaged a career-high 17.9 points and shot 38.6 percent from three-point range in his first season with the Lakers and was a primary option for instant offense off the bench. However, after signing a four-year $21.5 million contract last summer, Young struggled during the 2014-2015 season in Los Angeles.
Young, who battled with injuries all season long, which included a knee fracture that caused him to miss the last 27 games of the season, didn’t seem to be as efficient on both ends of the floor. Head coach Byron Scott, in his first year with the team, expressed his criticism on Young’s struggles throughout the season.
Scott has since talked to Young on what he needs to improve on in the off-season coming off a struggling season in his second year with the Lakers, via TWCSportsNet:
“Nick and I had conversations so it’s no secret what I’ve told him that he needs to do. If you want to look at one thing offensively you have to do, it’s move without the basketball. Learn to catch and shoot. Learn to take two, three dribbles. Pull-up and shoot. Two, three dribbles. Get to the basket. No more of this nine dribbles and everyone kinda watch, because that’s a home run or its a strikeout. You got to get better at moving without the basketball. That’s number one on offense.”
The Lakers sixth man, who only played in 42 games, didn’t have the same rhythm on offense and his numbers showed this. Young averaged 13.4 points per game on a career-low 36.6 percentage shooting.
During some stretches, Young looked in form making plays as he provided the offense for the second unit. However, he also struggled to see shots go in and at times tried to do too much constantly over-dribbling and would either hit-or-miss late in the shot clock.
Scott, who gave Young tips on what to work on the offensive end, also talked to him about improving on defense, via TWCSportsNet:
“I said number two defensively. Nick is a pretty good defender when he has guys that challenge him. He takes the challenge. He’ll guard pretty much one-on-one, but when the ball is off that guy’s hands, he has to be a better help defender, a better weak-side defender. Those are just two areas him and I talked about, and we did that during the season in Phoenix. It’s no secret the things that I told him to do to improve on. I told him ‘If you don’t, it might be hard for me to put you out there.'”
As the Lakers begin focusing on the NBA Draft and free agency, in what many are calling the biggest off-season in franchise history, Young has to decide if he’s willing to commit to what Scott wants to see in him next season. If not, as Coach Scott mentioned, he may not see himself playing as much as he’d like.
Just this past season Young saw his minutes reduced, averaging only 23.2 minutes per game, the lowest since his 2009-2010 season. Young still has three years left in his contract with the Lakers, including a player option in his last year.[divide]
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