Michael Young made history earlier this summer when he became the first player in Wizards history to sign a two-way contract with the team. The two-way deal allows Washington to keep full control over Young’s rights while on assignment in the G-League, and also allows them to call him up to the Wizards roster for up to 45 days during the regular season.
Young is the type of player the two-way contract was intended to help as part of the new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement. He was never rated highly enough to be under consideration with one of the 60 picks in the draft, and would go to waste as the last man on an NBA bench right now. However, with this new contract, Washington can keep a watchful eye on his performance and see if Young can hone his skills against other players trying to make their way into the league.
Pitt went through a transition this season, with Kevin Stallings replacing Jamie Dixon. While Young posted the best individual numbers of his collegiate career, the Panthers had their worst season during Young's time there. All in all, would you say the coaching change helped Young's development, hurt it, or didn't make much of a difference?
At the end of the day, I don't know how much difference it made. Young was expected to be one of the guys that would play a lot no matter the coach, so in terms of his production, I don't know that much changed because of Stallings. Stallings' offense allows for a little more flexibility on offense and a lot was made of that before the year because some players were vocal in feeling like if a mistake was made under Jamie Dixon, they would be sent to the bench. Young may have benefited by feeling a little more free on the court and perhaps his numbers got a little bit more of a bump if he felt more comfortable. But at the end of the day, I don't know that Stallings helped or hurt Young all that much.
Where did Young improve the most during his time at Pitt?
Young was a highly productive player even early in his career. As a sophomore, he led the team in rebounding and was nearly the team's top scorer. He's basically been either 1 or 1A in determining the team's best player (along with Jamel Artis) for the past three years. For me, seeing him develop into a 'go to' guy despite added responsibilities was the biggest thing. He was always a dependable player but became a dominant scoring option later in his career even when other teams knew he was getting the ball. Other guys at Pitt have sort of wilted under the pressure of assuming bigger roles, but Young performed reasonably well in that situation. He even cut his turnovers by about 20 percent despite the fact that he played more minutes and his hands on the ball more this year.
His shooting took a bit of a hit this year but that was to be expected because he played a lot more on the perimeter. He averaged almost four three-pointers a game when he didn't even average one in any of his first three years with the Panthers. Part of that was probably trying to showcase an additional skill set for the NBA and the other part is that Pitt was just playing catch up in a lot of games and didn't have many scoring options beyond him and Jamel Artis.
What do you think is the most underappreciated part of Young's game?
I don't know that it's necessarily underappreciated because it's well-documented, but one thing I really enjoyed was his inside/outside game. Young played center most of his time at Pitt and was often matched up against taller players. He ran into trouble at times but still found a way to score inside, get to the line, etc. despite being outsized. He's not wildly athletic but is kind of a crafty scorer even when he's giving up a size advantage.
Then, he has the ability to shoot from the outside as well and he was a career 34 percent shooter at Pitt from long distance. He's not going to light teams up by any means and live off of jump shots, but he can stretch the floor a little and has some scoring ability from outside of the paint. In the NBA, there are more guys with his kind of size shooting farther from the basket so I'm not sure the value is the same as it would have been 15-20 years ago. But he's still a pretty dependable scorer from all over the court and has a little bit of range.
What skill do you think Young needs to develop the most in order to have a shot of sticking in the NBA?
Young probably needs to improve his defense if he wants to stick in the NBA. The good news is he's not atrocious there and turned some solid efforts at Pitt. But he'll need to prove to coaches that he's above average there to give them a reason to keep him around over plenty of other guys with similar skill sets. Scorers are a dime a dozen.
The other thing I question is if his range translates to the NBA. For his size, he's a good outside shooter but I don't know that he'll quite as effective from three-point range with a longer shot required. Even though he's proven to be a decent outside shooter, I'd continue to make that a point of focus since dependability from long range will be a factor in landing on an NBA roster. And while it's out of his control, his size/abilities make finding a true position a bit challenging as well.