A few months ago, Nick Young’s future with the Los Angeles Lakers seemed bleak. The consensus was Young would be waived or traded before the start of the 2016-17 NBA season, but now he’s become a significant role player on this team once again.
One of the main reasons for Young’s resurgence in Los Angeles is his effort on the defensive end of the floor. Young is quickly becoming one of the team’s better defenders after being challenged by new head coach Luke Walton to step up his game on that end of the floor.
Apparently, with Young stepping up defensively and making a lot of headlines as of a result, his teammates have been referring to him as Bruce Bowen as well as many other great defenders of past and present, according to Joey Ramirez of Lakers.com:
Even Nick Young — who has long held a reputation as a subpar defender — has joined in on this new focus, as Nance said that his teammates keep calling him Bruce Bowen in practice, as well as jokingly comparing him to Gary Payton, Kawhi Leonard, Dennis Rodman and Tony Allen.
Young’s impact is being felt all over the basketball floor right now. The 31-year-old played with a lot of confidence during the preseason with the veteran showing his ability to defend as well as prove he can still be a force offensively.
In the seven games during the preseason, Young averaged 12.4 points per game while shooting 48.6 from the floor and 48.8 from beyond the arc. Young also had 2.2 steals per 48 minutes throughout the preseason.
Impressive for a player that was thought to have played his last game in a Lakers uniform and no telling whether another NBA team would take a chance on him. Although Young has changed the narrative, he will need to show he can play this well consistently on both ends of the floor during the regular season. It remains to be seen whether he can do that and keep his role on this team moving forward.