Going into last season, an argument could be made that Nick Young was the most important member of the Los Angeles Lakers not named Kobe Bryant. Fast-forward a year later and Young is now arguably the most expendable player on the roster.
A lackluster season from Young, coupled with the additions made by the team this off-season, led to the Lakers shopping Young this summer. The team was unable to move Young and now questions remain about Young’s role on the team.
He clashed with head coach Byron Scott last season as Scott consistently criticized Young throughout the year and general manager Mitch Kupchak has spoken about Young needing to improve in other facets of his game in order to ensure his spot in the rotation.
After expectations that were probably a bit too high for Young last year, hardly anyone expects Young to regain his 2014 form this year which could lead to him surprising some doubters. Of course with the Lakers far less reliant on Young’s scoring due to the additions of Lou Williams and D’Angelo Russell as well as the expected growth from Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle, it’s much easier to see Young falling out of the rotation and possibly even being moved.
Needless to say, there are a number of ways this season could go for Nick Young. So we asked our panel of experts if they believe Nick Young will be better or worse than he was last season. This is what they had to say:
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): With Lou Williams on the squad for the next three seasons, Nick Young should be highly motivated to prove his worth next season. Young is already facing a tough challenge ahead with head coach Byron Scott basically giving him an ultimatum after last season.
Coach Scott let it be known that if Young doesn’t improve his game on both ends of the basketball floor that he won’t be getting the minutes he’s used to. That should be enough motivation already, but adding Williams has threatened his role potentially making him that much more compelled to make an impression.
Although the motivational factors are there, Young could easily go in the other direction. If he can’t improve or make an impact on the coaching staff moving forward, expect the sixth man to be dealt elsewhere at some point before the trade deadline. I believe Young can bounce back and be a better all-around player, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him traded in the near future if things don’t work out.
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH): I’m probably in the minority on this subject, but I actually think there is a pretty decent chance that Young bounces back this season.
First and foremost, there is basically no pressure on Young this season. Last year he was expected to be the Lakers’ secondary scorer after Kobe. Now Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Roy Hibbert, Lou Williams, and possibly D’Angelo Russell will all be capable of getting points for the Lakers meaning Young won’t have to force as much, and defenses won’t be able to key in on him.
Despite not being relied upon this year, he should have ample opportunities to make a difference for the team as the Lakers are very thin at small forward. He should also be motivated to be at his best as he has been called out by both Byron Scott and Mitch Kupchak this off-season.
It is still very possible that none of this matters and Young’s play continues to tail off and if that happens, Young probably won’t be a Laker for long. But less pressure, available minutes, and extra motivation will be the key to Young reminding people of why he was a fan favorite not too long ago.[divide]