The past few years have not been easy for Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young. After consecutive nightmare seasons under ex-Lakers coach Byron Scott, it appeared as though his time as an NBA player was coming to an end. Rumors flew last summer that the Lakers would waive Young, who had one season left on his contract plus a player option for one more left on his contract.
However, this season, under new head coach Luke Walton, everything has changed. The 31-year-old Young not only managed to convince the Lakers to keep him around, but he has won himself a starting spot as well. His defense has improved compared to years past, and he is shooting a career-best 41 percent from three.
This resurgence has culminated in Young receiving an invitation to participate in the JBL Three-Point Contest at All-Star weekend. He spoke to Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times about his fight to get earn his place in the league:
“To be part of All -Star weekend after all this, is a blessing,” Young said. “At times I had doubts. When you read everything that’s going on, sometimes I almost just gave up, but I just kept going.”
It seemed that everyone had counted Young out, and it’s a testament to his character that he was able to persevere. Walton echoed those sentiments:
“Nick’s a really good guy, he really is,” Lakers Coach Luke Walton said. “Whenever you see someone like that, that’s put in the time and really took full advantage of his second, third chance, whatever you want to call it. Maybe his last chance. Who knows what it was? …The NBA inviting him to the three-point contest. As far as being a coach, that’s obviously not what’s most important, but that’s a big part of the reward.”
It’s unclear what the future holds for Young, who will almost certainly decline his player option and enter free agency this summer. He’s a Los Angeles guy and could wind up staying with the Lakers long term.
It’s also possible that another team comes calling and draws him away, but those are considerations for another day. For now, Young will do his best to take home the three-point crown on Saturday night, and Lakers fans will be cheering him on the entire way.