2010/11 Washington Wizards Player Evaluation: Nick Young

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 26: Nick Young #1 of the Washington Wizards drives around Jason Kidd #2 of the Dallas Mavericks at the Verizon Center on February 26, 2011 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Over the next few weeks, we will be evaluating the 2010/11 seasons of all the players who ended the year on the Wizards' roster.  We'll offer our quick thoughts, then ask you to grade their season on a 1-10 scale in the comments.  For the purposes of this exercise, we'll start with the key players and work our way down. Next in line: Nick Young.


Nick Young

#1 / Forward / Washington Wizards

6-7

210

Jun 01, 1985

U-S-C

Years in NBA: 4

Contract status: Restricted free agent with a $3.7 million qualifying offer


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2010 - Nick Young 64 31.8 6.4 14.6 44.1 1.6 4.2 38.7 2.9 3.6 81.6 0.4 2.3 2.7 1.2 1.4 0.7 0.3 2.3 17.4

 


Key advanced stat: Young's shooting percentages from 16-23 feet, by month: 57.4% in November, 48.6% in December, 44.8% in January, 38.7% in February, 39.5% in March. His attempts from 16-23 feet: 4.4 in November, 5.3 in December, 6.6 in January, 7.3 in February, 5.4 in March.

Lots of people feel good about how Nick Young's 2010/11 season went, and indeed, he was better than he was in the past.  For about the first half of the season, Young showed a lot of growth in his game.  After a year adjusting to his catch and shoot role, it all clicked for Young and he suddenly was figuring out how to score within the context of the offense.  

Unfortunately, though, once you pass one lesson as a young player, it's on to the next one.  Here, Young experienced more difficulty once defenses started to key on him and take his rhythm away.  Injuries didn't help either, as Young played hurt for a little while before finally shutting it down in March, but he was starting to experience some adversity even before the injuries hit.  His shooting percentage on the very shots he often takes (16-23 feet) was tumbling, and Young responded by taking more of those shots.  Throw in the fact that Young had little complimentary scoring around him, and things got difficult.

In an ideal world, the Wizards would chalk up 2010/11 as a year of positive growth for Young, work with him over the summer to improve his game now that he mastered the catch-and-shoot thing and trot him back out there under a rookie contract hoping he can demonstrate enough growth to truly be a franchise cornerstone.  The problem is that Young is a restricted free agent, and a 25-year old one at that.  For several reasons, be it a coaching change, poor development early on or Young's own inability to grasp what his coaches wanted, Young didn't really get too far until these past two seasons.  Now, the Wizards are in a bit of a bind, where they need to pay up when they don't have much certainty that Young can take that next step.

It's easy to say that Young won't be tremendously expensive, so this isn't a really big problem.  But there are two issues with that.  First, it's not clear just how much he'll be worth, since the labor situation is complicated.  More importantly, it's still a long-term commitment with a degree of risk.  You can't cheat rebuilding.  If you take a leap of faith on a player and it doesn't work out, that's still you draining a portion of your salary cap that will then have to go towards fixing the problem.  The risk is supposed to be ironed out while the player is still under contract cheaply, because that's your last chance to have the optimal flexibility to consider alternatives.  The Wizards are already stuck with one player on a long-term contract that was handed out under the impression that the player would improve.  To add a second long-term contract to your payroll that also has a small track record of success for whatever reason is a risky play that teams that have rebuilt correctly often avoid.

Now, granted, Young isn't Andray Blatche.  Despite his loopy demeanor, Young doesn't get in trouble off the court and has worked very hard to improve his game.  He's gotten much stronger over the past two years, has tried diligently to become a better defender (something that's paid off in his man-to-man defense, but not yet in his team defense) and has eliminated many of the bad habits that were once in his game.  Progress has sometimes been slow, but it's not because he doesn't put in the work.  The counter to that, though, is a lot of the stuff discussed here, as well as the reality that Young's shooting really fell back to earth over the course of the season.  There's also the presence of Jordan Crawford, who plays the same position, is three years younger and will cost anywhere from half to four times less over the next three years.

So it's a tough call for the Wizards.  Young had a good, but not great year. It was a year where he made some major improvements and still needs to make more.  It'd be a whole lot less complicated if these things didn't happen in a contract year.  None of this should be Young's fault, but it's a reality Ernie Grunfeld has to consider when deciding Young's future.

A LIMERICK ABOUT NICK YOUNG'S SEASON, BY JAKE WHITACRE

A scorer where scoring is dearth
Fitting his profile since birth
Shoots night and day
Fits the cliché
Where do you put this kid's worth?

Discussion question

Pretend that you are tasked with creating a trade value piece for all the shooting guards in the league, taking into account talent, age and price like Bill Simmons likes to do.  Consider what you think Young's expected price will be this summer.  Where does he rank on that list?

Rate Young's season on a scale of 1-10, given the expectations you feel he should have been given heading into the season.  

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