Nick Young was a wild card coming into this season. He had always been a streaky shooter with loads of potential. That potential hadn’t been tapped into in his stints in Washington and Philadelphia, but Young has found his groove back home in Los Angeles.
Young struggled to begin the season, but he’s thrived in his role as one of the leaders of the second unit, and head coach Mike D’Antoni believes that he’s a candidate for the 6th Man Of The Year award, according to Mark Medina of the LA Daily News.
“He should. If we can get our record [good],” D’Antoni said. “That’s going to be the product of the team. He’s playing well enough. But if we surprise people, get in the playoffs and do really well, yeah, he’ll have a really good chance at it.”
Since moving out of the starting lineup, Young has averaged over 15 points per game on .566 TS% in 26.3 minutes per game. Through 17 games, Young has career highs in true shooting percentage, effective field goal percentage, offensive and defensive efficiency and win shares per 48. Young’s usage rate is at his career average, but he’s up nearly across the board in averages per 36 minutes and in shooting percentages (FT shooting is a little down, everywhere else is up).
What has been most surprising, however, is Young’s willingness to work on the defensive end. He drew the charge to seal the game against Detroit, but he’s worked hard chasing around the off guards who get the most of their looks via off ball screens and has done a great job digging down in the post and using active hands to cause deflections and create turnovers.
Young was brought in to score the ball, no doubt about that, but what the Lakers have gotten out of him in other facets of the game has been huge for the team. If Young can remain consistent for the remainder of the season, D’Antoni could be correct, and we may see Young win the Sixth Man Of The Year.
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