At Sunday’s practice, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr implored new addition Nick Young to shoot more. It’s a funny request for one of the most notorious chuckers in recent NBA history, and even more absurd given the Warriors’ egalitarian offense.
Young explained that he’s been a little passive during his integration with the team’s offense. It’s already set, and he’s been just trying to fit in.
But Nick Young’s jump shot is why he was signed, and it could provide a needed spark to the bench unit. During the offseason, I explained how the signings of Nick Young and Omri Casspi were a concerted effort to upgrade the supporting cast’s shooting. Often, Kerr needed Klay Thompson or Kevin Durant (or both) to play with the bench unit to provide the necessary spacing.
Nick Young at first seems like an odd fit in the Warriors’ system. He’s long had a reputation as streaky shooter with poor shot selection, with little regard for passing. The Warriors’ offense, on the other hand, prizes ball movement and sharing the rock.
But last season, under former Warriors’ coach Luke Walton, Nick Young was an efficient scorer. He shot 58.8% True Shooting, and hit over 40% of his threes. He cut down on two-pointers, and almost all of his threes were assisted. That’s what coaches want to see from a successful role player.
If he’s truly bought into the role of a spot up shooter, he’ll have value on this team. On Sunday, he said, “I’ll be getting a lot of open 3’s. I’ll have to get used to not having somebody pretty much guarding me that much. I’m used to being in that corner for a while.”
Having spent almost his entire career on bad teams, Young’s new opportunity with the Warriors will make his life much easier: because of the Warriors’ star power on offense, he’ll get the best looks of any spot-up shooter in the game.
Young will need to improve his passing. There will be times when even the most one-dimensional shooters should be able to find open teammates, and Young might not be able to do even that. In Golden State’s offense, this skill could be the difference between regular rotation minutes and riding the bench. In his ten year career, he’s only recorded 649 assists, barely one per game. At age thirty-two, it’s far-fetched to think he’ll be able to improve his court vision substantially.
There’s also the question of whether Young can stay on the floor defensively. He’s always had the physical tools to do so, with good length and quick feet. But he’s rarely had the motivation or effort to excel, and his technique is similarly lagging. However, that’s another discussion entirely.
Young also plays an overloaded position on the Warriors roster. His primary position is small forward, but he can slide over to shooting guard as well. But he’s not ever going to better than Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, or Andre Iguodala, and there’s a good chance Patrick McCaw will be better than him next season. Thus, there’s only so minutes he can play.
But if he can shoot and play with effort, he’ll shine. After all, playing with the other stars on the team has already facilitated the comeback of one reclamation project, JaVale McGee. Nick Young thinks he could do the same.
Is Nick Young this years JaVale McGee? He says, "Yeah, except instead of catching love I'm gonna be shooting 3s"— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) September 24, 2017