The Chicken or the Egg....
Does more playing time help a young player develop faster by instilling confidence and providing real game time experience?
Should playing time be doled out only to those players that have shown the confidence, experience and consistency to deserve it?
All season long, Pradamaster and I have been complaining about the inconsistent minutes afforded to Nick Young, the Wizards #1 pick in the 2007 Draft. My contention is that with increased playing time, especially in this lost season, Nick could improve his court awareness, defensive abilities, and overall court game... He could become more than just a "scorer".
Recently, the Wizards are down to sometimes only 8 healthy bodies, and Nick's minutes have finally become steady. In the last 9 games, Young is averaging almost 29 minutes per game - never falling below 24 minutes in any game during that stretch. During that same stretch, he is averaging 15.6 points per game on 48% shooting - and all 9 games he has scored in double digits.
But everyone knows Nick can score. The knock against Nick Young is that he does little else to help the club EXCEPT score the basketball.
This increase in playing time seems to have boosted Nick's confidence level, and he's doing things that he has not done in the past. Not that he didn't have the ability to rebound, play defense, and give out assists - it's just that we've never seen him do it consistently. Until now.
During this 9 game stretch, Young is averaging 2 assists per game, more than 2 rebounds per game and he's putting forth much more effort on defense. We've seen some of that effort paying off, with a nice block on Diaw at the end of the Chicago game; and another block and a couple of beautiful steals yesterday against Detroit. He's still making some mistakes on defense - but the effort is there; and with effort, comes improvement.
The following, courtesy of Mike Jones:
"For so long, he was worried that if he didn't score, he'd get taken out of games. But now he's learning that he can help in other ways," Wizards interim coach Ed Tapscott said.
Young said he's starting to relax - partly because he's getting more playing time with the Wizards down to just eight healthy players - and doesn't feel the need to force shots as much.
"At first, I was just worried coming in, 'Am I going to play well?' just trying to get my shot off," Young said. "But now, knowing I'm going to be out there longer, I don't have to put as much pressure on myself by just scoring. I'm trying to do a little bit of everything."
Well, I don't know about the Chicken or the Egg.... But in the case of Nick Young, it's pretty clear that increased, consistent playing time is the key to his development.