[Editor's note: I would like to welcome Rashad Mobley to the staff of TAI. Rashad has covered the Wizards with media credentials over the past two seasons for HoopsAddict.com. He's also written several guest posts on this site. Now, I'm excited to announce that Rashad will be bringing his writing skills to TAI full-time. And for his debut as 'officially' official, he dives further into Nick Young's one game in Vegas. Enjoy. -Kyle]
[Nick Young gains separation from Trey Johnson
heading toward a screen from Corsley Edwards.]
Last Thursday when the Washington Wizards PR staff allowed bloggers and writers to watch mini-camp practice, I had some things I expected to see. I expected to see up and down play from John Wall; I expected to see JaVale McGee and Hamady N’Diaye doing friendly battle in the post; and I definitely expected to see Sam Cassell barking instructions out because, well..that’s what’s Cassell does.
But I can honestly say that I did not expect to see Nick Young on that practice court. Yet there he was, taking passes from Wall in stride and launching jumpers, playing pressure defense, and matching the intensity of players not guaranteed a roster spot like he seemingly is.
Young did not talk to the media after that particular practice, so it was up to Flip Saunders to shed light as to why Young was there, and whether he’d play in the summer league.
“We talked to him recently, and just decided he was going to come and go through camp, ” Saunders explained to the media. “He might play a couple of games but we’ll just wait and see.”
It’s a bit unusual to see a fourth-year player being considered for his fourth summer league appearance, but given Young’s inconsistent tenure as a Wizard, it is not surprising. He’s shown fleeting moments of absolute brilliance, but unfortunately there are more consistent stretches of a lack of confidence. And with Gilbert Arenas’ injuries, sub par performances from Mike Miller and Randy Foye, and the trades of Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler, Young had plenty of opportunities to distinguish himself as a force on this team, and it just hasn’t happened to this point.
But with the John Wall era officially starting in the Las Vegas Summer League, and a contract year looming over his head, Young once again has an opportunity to prove he not only belongs on this team, but he can be a key contributor. His first test came last night against the Los Angeles Clippers.
In 28 minutes of play, Young shot 6-of-11 from the field, including 4-of-7 from the three-point line, for a total of 18 points. He also had two steals, two turnovers, one rebound and no assists. But the number don’t tell the entire story of Young’s 2010 summer league debut. Let’s delve deeper.
It is common knowledge at this point that Young needs to get off to fast starts in order for him to play well for an extended period of time. The past two seasons are littered with examples of Young losing confidence in his game early, and then getting an early hook from the coach.
Last night, Young took a good pass from Wall, and missed his first shot, and not too long after that he turned the ball over on a palming violation. This is only summer league and the level of competition is a far cry from what it will eventually be in November, but still, Young did not lose confidence. He grabbed his only rebound, he blocked a shot, and later in that same quarter he found his shooting stroke. Considering he ended up shooting over 50% from the field, I’d say he passed the confidence test
The Open Shot
During mini-camp last week, John Wall drove deep in the lane, and kicked the ball out to Young in the right corner for an open shot, and he missed it. I remember looking at someone and saying, “If he can’t hit that, there’s no way he makes the team.”
Fast forward to last night’s game, there were at least there occasions where Wall’s penetration enabled Young to have a wide open shot from the perimeter or the corner. He missed a few, but he made enough for the defense to start paying attention and sending a man towards him. Nick still has the ability to channel his inner Reggie Miller by running through screens and hitting a shot that way, but based on what I saw in practice and last night, the ability to hit outside shots like Mike Miller will keep him on the floor
When Young is feeling confident about his shot and his game, he has the tendency to flip into AAU mode–meaning there is excessive dribbling followed by off balance shots. Last night towards the end of the third quarter, after dribbling, then fading backwards, he hit such a shot. Luckily for the Wizards, that was his only shot like that of the night. For the most part, Young played within the flow of the offense, which of course was made easier by Wall’s presence
Last year, the one part of Young’s game that thrived even when his shot didn’t, was his defense. Young showed a knack for being able to stay in front of his man, and get a hand in the face of his man on the release. Last night was no different. Young blocked a shot, he got steals, he fought through screens, and he seems to have retained that desire to play tight, on the ball defense.
The Wall Effect
Although it’s difficult to glean tendencies and trends from just two games, it is fair to say that Wall is a pass first, shoot second point guard, which means that everyone has to be ready for the ball at all times. This was not lost on Young at all. Every time down the floor, Young ran, moved and cut like he was going to get the ball, which was not always the case in the past (except when Shaun Livingston ran the point). Off the court, when Wall and Young were sitting next to each other, Young listened when Wall was giving instructions, and when it came time to laugh, they did that too.
I’m no body language expert or lip reader, so I won’t get too carried away with what I saw in those exchanges. But if the number one overall pick in the draft has a good rapport with you on and off the court, that certainly cannot hurt right?
This was only one game in a summer league setting, and it is easy to get carried away with the accolades and observations. But given that Nick Young has retired from summer league, this may be all we have to go on until training camp begins. Based on the baby steps he took last night, there is no reason not to be a bit encouraged.
And now, a word from Nick Young.
[Nick Young springs for a corner three.]
[All pictures copyright Kyle Weidie, Truth About It.net]