Everybody knows Nick Young can hit shots. The Warriors signed Young primarily to add some shooting to the bench, and he hasn’t disappointed in that department. He’s hit 41.3% of his threes, which would be a career high for him if it continues, and has almost entirely cut out ill-advised midrange jumpers from his game.
That’s good, but it’s not enough for Young to be an impactful player. When the Warriors added him this offseason, there were real concerns over whether he could play winning basketball. In fact, it is still unknown whether he can pass the ball, play defense, and figure out the Warriors’ complex offense well enough to survive the intensity of the playoffs.
Early in the season, Young was hurting the Warriors when he was on the court. He looked out of shape, didn’t put enough effort on the defensive end, and was too one-dimensional offensively to earn minutes. In fact, in early November, Steve Kerr told media he would be playing Patrick McCaw over Young in the rotation.
But Young has pulled it together in recent weeks, and has actually played more minutes than McCaw over the last five games. He’s shown that he’s beginning to grasp the Warriors’ concepts, and is trying harder on the defensive end. If Nick Young shows he can make the extra pass, find room for cuts in the paint, and play defense, he’ll get playing time.
Something Nick Young didn't do the first few weeks: Well-timed back cuts pic.twitter.com/UcqnHnjYy8— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) November 14, 2017
I’m actually fairly optimistic that Young has the tools to be a solid player for the Warriors, and maybe hold down reliable minutes against some playoff opponents. The main adjustment for Young is the level of focus and intensity required for a championship team.
Young has never been on a team nearly as good as the Warriors, and has never been truly held accountable for his mistakes. The standards are just so much higher.
Young can be a decent defender for the Warriors. He was solid on that end for the Lakers last year, and has the length to be disruptive. He just has to give more effort and play smarter than he ever has in his career.
Offensively, he’s going to hit shots. That alone is probably enough on that end, but learning to do the small things, like finding the open guy in scramble situations, and moving well off the ball, will really take his play to the next level.
It’s just plain fun to watch Young play on the Warriors, surrounded by talent in an uptempo system. I’m really hoping he can secure a consistent role on the team.