In 2014, Nick Young enjoyed a career season. Despite the Los Angeles Lakers posting a franchise-worst record at the time, Young became a fan favorite due to his scoring ability and overall fun and happy demeanor. Young was rewarded with a four year, $21.5 million contract by the Lakers last summer.
Fast-forward one year and things have changed dramatically. The Lakers were even worse in 2015 and Young’s play regressed dramatically as his efficiency fell and his field goal percentage was the worst of his career. As a result, many fans seemed to tire of Young’s antics both on and off the court.
Additionally, Young clashed with head coach Byron Scott who constantly criticized him in the media. At one point during the season, Young fell completely out of the rotation and eventually saw his season end early due to a knee injury.
Though Young has said that he and Scott are now on the same page, that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from churning. The Lakers will reportedly entertain offers for Young, and Young himself has said that he is unsure if he will be back with the team next season.
We asked our panel of experts if they want Nick Young on the Lakers’ roster next season. This is what they had to say:
Russell Valenzuela (@RussVal4): Nick Young is still a valuable piece for the Los Angeles Lakers entering next season. Despite his struggles this past season, he is still capable of providing instant offense off the bench. The Lakers still need some depth at the wing, and Young is a prime option.
The Lakers have needed Young to be their offense and basically do everything else whenever he was on the court the last two seasons. All of that is set to change with all the additions and returns from injury the Lakers are expecting. Young won’t be the focal point anymore but rather just another piece of the team.
When put in that scenario, Young can excel at what he does best. He will get the baskets the team needs without feeling it’s all on his shoulders. He seems willing to put in the work to improve his game and work on becoming more of factor off-the ball.
Yes, his antics and personality are out of control. He is seen as immature and not taking basketball seriously. None of that detracts from the fact that he has some usage on the court. With the constant presence of Kobe Bryant around, Young will be forced to keep his childish outbursts to a minimum and keep giving maximum effort.
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): Nick Young is one-dimesional. There isn’t a player in the league that is more predictable than the Lakers sixth man and that’s his biggest flaw.
Although Young has played well at times, and is entertaining in the locker room, the veteran guard/forward may have played his last game for the Lakers. Coach Byron Scott clearly isn’t a fan of Young’s antics on and off the floor leading many to believe he’ll be gone in the near future.
Personally, Young is a solid scorer when engaged and supported. If he’s motivated, the veteran has shown flashes on the defensive end of the floor as well, but the Lakers simply don’t know which Swaggy P they’ll be getting next season.
Kobe Bryant’s presence really seemed to bring something out in Young and that may be something that helps him stay in Los Angeles for at least one more year. The only problem is I don’t think the Lakers will hesitate to trade him if the right deal comes along.
If motivated and ready to improve on the list of things Scott told him to improve on, then yes, I want Young back on the roster. Otherwise, don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Swaggy.
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH): The main issue with Nick Young has been the fact that he was one of the three most important players on the team in each of the last two seasons and he just isn’t equipped to be that player.
I am not opposed to Young returning to the team as long as the Lakers make the major additions that they are poised to do this off-season.
Assuming the Lakers keep their second pick, the team will likely add a big man who will almost definitely be the team’s starting center. Combine that with (hopefully) one or two additions in free agency, Kobe’s return from injury, and expected development from Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle and Young is suddenly the sixth or seventh most vital player on the roster, right where he should be.
Young’s play being a luxury instead of a necessity is the key. He can still score from anywhere on the floor and a team always needs players like that. Despite his playful nature, he has always shown that he will put in the work to improve, and was the only player on the team willing to challenge Kobe Bryant on last year’s team.
Young can still be a positive on this team and while he probably isn’t as good as his 2014 form, he isn’t as bad as his 2015 form either. The Lakers aren’t terribly deep on the wing and if nothing else, Young provides depth there. If the team makes the moves they’re capable of making this off-season, I wouldn’t mind him coming off the bench next year.