In June, the Boston Celtics selected Marcus Smart and James Young with the 6th and 17th overall picks in the NBA Draft. The former has been well documented and highly touted since his arrival at Oklahoma State, but what about the latter Young? What can Celtics fans expect from the 6-foot-7 small forward out of Kentucky?
As a freshmen at Kentucky, Young showed flashes of brilliance and poise under the tutelage of head coach John Calipari. In the NCAA tournament, he was especially on point, coming through in big moments with clutch baskets and playmaking ability. So, what does he bring to the table from a skill stand point?
Young is indeed just that. He is still very raw and has a lot of maturing to do, but the potential is there. At 215 pounds with a long wingspan, Young has the physical tools to cover a lot of ground. Although he is not the most athletic player and generally plays below the rim, he covers a lot of ground due to his length and will only get stronger with age, as well as an NBA workout regiment. He can also shoot the ball from long range and has solid offensive moves. At this stage of his career, he is not a great ball handler and won’t thrive in isolation possessions, but with time that part of his game could develop nicely. Right now, he is more of a spot up shooter who can put it on the floor when needed and finish at the rim due to his wingspan.
One area of his game that needs vast improvement is his defense both on and off the ball. At this stage in his development, he is not going to see the floor much under Brad Stevens if he doesn’t work really hard on his footwork and defensive IQ. His fundamentals on defense are poor at best and he doesn’t move well laterally. Celtics fans can expect some frustrating moments next year when average offensive players completely blow by Young.
Although there will be some hair pulling moments and a lot of ups and downs, the Celtics drafting Young at No. 17 was a smart move and could pay big dividends down the line. For now, all he is is another talented player with potential, but with a few years of the right coaching and a strong work ethic, he could turn into something special.