When Nick Young signed with the Lakers this past off-season, I had moderate expectations. I figured he would add some scoring, take pressure off of Kobe to create shots, and become a solid addition off the bench.
He’s certainly added all of that, but been so much more for the Lakers thus far — exceeding my expectations, by far.
I expected him to be streaky, but he’s been nothing short of consistent — possibly even the most consistent Laker this season.
I expected him to buy into team defense, but he took on the challenge of becoming a solid individual defender and has succeeded so far — coming up with timely steals and charges alike on a number of occasions.
I expected him to look for attention in the bright Hollywood lights and try to jump-start his career, but he’s earned every single compliment, been entertaining on and off the court, and become a model teammate and professional throughout.
Not to mention that he’s currently the Lakers leading scorer, and with Steve Blake, Steve Nash, and Kobe Bryant all out due to injuries, Swaggy P has been the Lakers’ heart and soul as of late — arguably even their MVP.
He may always have a smile on his face and a smooth demeanor about him, but when he steps between the baselines, Nick Young is a true competitor.
Young is currently averaging 15.4 points in 27 minutes of play, while mostly coming off the bench. He also currently holds an eFG% of 50.5, which is the highest of his career.
Additionally, although he’s averaged more points in previous seasons throughout his seven-year career, Young currently holds the highest PER (16.2) he’s ever recorded.
With Isiah Thomas and Jamal Crawford (other Sixth Man of the Year candidates) spending time as starters recently, it leaves Nick Young as a shoe-in for the Sixth Man of the Year award, even this early in the season. Swaggy P would have it no other way, either, as he set that award as one of his goals for this season.
Similarly, he’s experienced much more success off the bench as opposed to being placed in the starting lineup — averaging just 9.5 points and an eFG% of 37.3 in six games as a starter this season.
Throughout a season full of ups and downs, Nick Young has truly been a bright spot for the Lakers. With a player option of $1.2 million next season, Young will likely opt out of his contract in aspirations of a more lucrative deal. But there’s no question — being life-long Lakers fan growing up in Los Angeles — that Swaggy P wants to remain in a purple and gold uniform for years to come.
If he keeps up his level of play and value to this Lakers team, I am sure (or at least hope) he will get rewarded with a long-term, adequately lucrative contract.
The Lakers locked up their number one free agent already (Kobe Bryant), and even though the season isn’t even halfway over with, Nick Young should be a priority for the Lakers looking ahead to this summer; if he indeed opts out of his contract, that is.
Nick Young came to the Lakers for less money to prove that he can still live up to his potential of becoming a star in this league.
The word “star” holds a certain weight in this league. It means that you contribute to your team on a daily basis and consistently play hard. It means that you take responsibility for both wins and losses. It means that you lead your teammates and lead by example. It sometimes also means that you have a certain charisma, but that your charisma translates to production on the court — a la Magic Johnson.
So far, Nick Young has certainly made his case for being a “star” in every sense of the word.
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