It wasn’t that long ago that Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young seemed to be a near-lock to find himself on the waiver wire. With issues both off and on the court, no team was interested in trading for the personable swingman, putting the Lakers in the unenviable position of deciding whether to cut their losses and eat the remaining $11 million on Young’s contract or give him another chance.
Ultimately, the Lakers decided to keep Young around, at least for this season, and so far it’s paying dividends. In three preseason games, he has looked like his old self, the “Swaggy P” that originally won over Lakers fans in 2013. However, Young isn’t just hitting the tough shots that he used to be known for, instead, it’s his defense that is drawing the praise of head coach Luke Walton via Tania Ganguli of the LA Times:
“He’s fighting through screens, he’s locking and trailing, getting in there and rebounding,” Walton said. “I told him after he did it the first night, he proved to us that he can do it so now we expect to see it every time he’s out there.”
Against the Trail Blazers, Young scored 14 points, 12 of which came on threes. He also added three rebounds, two assists, a steal, and a block on the evening, but his defensive intensity was what really stood out. He used his 6’7″ frame to challenge shooters, helped by the fact that his head was on a swivel, always looking to rotate to the open man.
For Young, the opportunity that Walton has given him is something he appreciates, especially coming off two seasons of being in Byron Scott‘s dog house. There is still a lot of work to do, as a few preseason games do not equate to a comeback, but Young appears to be determined to prove his doubters wrong this season.