Shooting has never exactly been the Memphis Grizzlies‘ strong suit. Efficient scoring wings have not walked through the locker room recently either.
Last season, the Grizzlies lacked a consistent scoring presence on the perimeter to bolster the offense that is lead primarily by front court talents in Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Mike Conley had to handle a majority of the load in the back court, and while Conley has certainly taken his game to another level since his rookie season, he will never be a franchise scorer.
Conley is great at managing the game and finding his spots when it makes the most sense in the flow of the offense. While he has the speed, ball handling and penetration skills necessary to create his own shot, it is simply not his game to be that guy to take over and put the team on his back in terms of scoring the basketball.
Randolph and Gasol can be efficient scorers on offense, but without reliable shooters beyond the arc to keep the opposing defense honest, defenders can clog the paint inside and double and triple team both big men, making it hard for them to get clean looks at the basket consistently. The Grizzlies need to find a wing player in the upcoming NBA draft who can shoot it from deep as well as create scoring opportunities inside for himself.
Enter James Young.
Young was a freshman at the University of Kentucky this past season, and gave head coach John Calipari quality minutes throughout the regular season and all the way through the 2014 NCAA tournament to the Final Four. Young is a small forward with decent size at 6-foot-6. Young utilizes his size and great athleticism to get open on offense and move out in transition.
Overall, Young averaged 14.3 points per game in a loaded lineup for the Wildcats. Young’s shooting percentages were not the best, but for most of the season the Wildcats were still figuring out how to play with one another and get to the spots on the floor where they were most comfortable hitting shots. Young really showcased his scoring arsenal in the Final Four, averaging 18.5 points per game in that span. He hit shots from almost every spot on the floor, even dunking over multiple defenders in traffic as well as connecting from the free throw line.
When Young is able to put it all together, his scoring talent can really shine in an offense. Young is a great shooter with range, and while he struggled to be consistent over the course of the entire season, Young still has plenty of time to get things right before his career really takes off in the NBA. Motor wise, Young put forth excellent hustle in terms of going after loose balls and being a consistent presence in transition and on defense as well.
The Grizzlies need a wing player that can score and not be a complete liability on defense. Young has plenty of potential on both sides of the ball, and while his upside may not be a 25 points per game scorer in the league, he does project to be a nice fit out on the perimeter for an NBA squad. The Grizzlies need any help they can get on the perimeter, and Young might be the type of player to come in and contribute to an offense right away.
Memphis does not have the time to sit around and wait on a project player. Young is not that kind of guy, and can be a positive in a hurry with a little coaching and many chances to shine.