He'll never admit it, but Nick Young had to have felt pretty crappy the day the Wizards traded for Mike Miller and Randy Foye. Young had just been through a year where his playing time went up and down like a yo-yo. His commitment to anything other than scoring was questioned, as was his seriousness about the game. He had his moments and did ultimately have a better year than he did as a rookie, but he still seemed like trade bait after Foye and Miller were brought in.
Of course, that was then. Now, after an outstanding summer, Young has seemingly given himself another chance to earn minutes. He's worked extensively with Sam Cassell and others on his catch-and-shoot game, his defense and his ball-handling, and it showed in Summer League, when he averaged nearly 24 points a game in the Wizards' five games. Flip Saunders singled him out at his preseason press conference, and he was one of the most impressive players in the team's scrimmage last night.
But has Young climbed the latter enough to get significant playing time? Make the jump to discuss.
Why he might play: Nick has prototypical shooting guard size and skills. He has shown remarkable improvement in his ability to come off screens and shoot, and his size and length make him an ideal fit defensively if he displays the proper commitment to that end. Him starting would also simplify the rotation -- it would make Foye the primary backup at the 1 and 2, Miller the primary backup at the 2 and 3 and shove DeShawn Stevenson to the bench.
Why he might not play: Nick does shoot a lot, and that might not be a good thing when playing with the Big 3. His skills seem ideal as an instant offense guy off the bench, but that was also what Foye was brought in to do. Young still hasn't proven he's a capable enough defender to be a stopper, which is also what a shooting guard playing next to Gilbert Arenas needs to be.
My best guess: Young has made a ton of progress, much more than I expected, and put himself in a better position than I could have imagined to get playing time. That said, I still think he has an uphill battle to climb. One thing that Flip has stressed is that he loves multi-dimensional players. Foye is multi-dimensional in terms of what positions he can play, and Miller and Dominic McGuire are multi-dimensional in their skills. Young is pretty one-dimensional in his position and pretty one-dimensional in his skills at this point, so I'd have to think that's a strike against him.
I think he's basically battling DeShawn Stevenson and Dominic McGuire, with the two losers falling out of the rotation. Young is a better player than both of those guys, but he doesn't bring the skills needed to blend with the Big 3 (namely, defense) as much as those two. Therefore, it comes down to how he performs defensively. If he makes enough improvements there, Flip will have no choice but to start him in the 20-25 MPG off guard role.