When Nick Young inked his one-year veteran’s minimum deal last summer with the Los Angeles Lakers, Sixth Man of the Year was not even something fans were expecting. Young began the season in the starting lineup, but ineffectiveness landed him a steady job to become the team’s sixth man. Surprisingly, Young played exceptionally well in the bench role, rather than when given the starting nod.
With such stellar play came plenty of praise from the fans, media and Lakers’ management themselves. As soon as Sacramento Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas was moved into the starting lineup, Young led the NBA in scoring off the bench for a large chunk of the 2013-14 season.
Unfortunately, several injuries later Sixth Man of the Year victor Jamaal Crawford took over the bench scoring lead before ultimately concluding the season at 18.6 points per game. Young did not finish too far behind Crawford in terms of scoring, averaging 17.9 points per game.
Furthermore, to be considered the eighth best bench player in the entire league should certainly be a flattering accomplishment, mainly because great teams cannot win without production from their bench. On the other hand, I truly believe Young deserved a bit more credit for how much he was able to improve his game from last season.
He was basically irrelevant entering the 2013 free agency market, his salary a reflection of that. To have the ability to come out night after night and light up the scoreboard off the bench is an extremely difficult task to complete. Yes, Young’s game is limited to really only having a noticeable impact on the offensive end, however we must give the man much more credit.
Luckily for Young though, his recent outbursts have likely earned him a lucrative deal this summer making it very difficult to envision him suiting up in a Lakers uniform again. We wont know for sure though, until free agency begins in July.