Wednesday's 92-84 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers allowed Wizards fans to catch a glimpse at one of their former "three burritos" in Nick Young. More attention has been devoted to JaVale McGee's uneven play in Denver and Andray Blatche's resurgence in Brooklyn, but quietly, Young seems to have found his niche in a new environment.
Young has been starting and thriving in place of the injured Jason Richardson. Last night, he scored 18 points while also tallying four assists, four rebounds and two steals. It was the fifth straight game he scored in double figures, and he's averaged nearly 13 points a game on 42-percent shooting from the field and 43-percent shooting from three-point land in January.
While many (including me) wondered how Young's style would mesh with a coach like Doug Collins, it looks like the partnership is going well. Collins hasn't tried to change Young, and has even go so far to call him "Swaggy P" in interviews. Instead, he's tried to add to his game while letting him be himself. Via CSN Philly:
"[Young] has really listened as we've tried to teach him," Collins said. "He's focused and I told him when we got him that my goal as his coach was to make him a more polished player. Not ‘Swaggy P' and the act, but a player. He's guarding now, he had four assists and he's getting in there and making plays for our guys. He's earned the trust of his teammates and, more importantly, he trusted the coaching staff when he came here."
Young admitted that it took some time for him to adjust to Collins, but he now is happy to play his role. Via Michael Lee:
"Just starting to find myself on this team," Young said. "A couple of ups and downs. Coach has been a little tough, but they've been on me all year.
I'm trying to figure it out. I'm learning. It's kind of tough, but picking it up along the way, getting better. I'm in a good situation right now."
And, of course, Young is still being his colorful self. He apparently has a new tattoo that says, simply, "In Swag We Trust." He admitted to trash-talking his former teammates during the game, which caused them to fall out of their seats in laughter on the bench. He has a haircut that teammate Royal Ivey compared to Sonic the Hedgehog.
But still, even while doing that, he's helping a team and earning the respect -- and admiration, really -- of his coach. The Wizards correctly concluded last year that none of that was going to happen in D.C., but it does make you wonder if it could have happened with a different development plan from the start.