With a new contract, a new head coach and some solid roster additions, Young and the Los Angeles Lakers have a lot to play for next season. He will have an integral role in helping the Lakers prove doubters wrong, leading a revitalization of the franchise over the next couple of seasons, and even challenging star guard Kobe Bryant as the team’s leading scorer.
Young averaged 17.9 points-per-game last season, starting in just nine of the 64 total games he played in. He was the Lakers’ sixth man and super-sub, both efficient offensively and their go-to offensive weapon while Bryant was sidelined with various injuries. With the return of Bryant, the additions of Carlos Boozer, Jeremy Lin and prized rookie Julius Randle, the Lakers have a potent offensive line-up, especially if Young performs at a similar or higher level than he did last season.
While offense has always been a staple of Young’s game, he must commit defensively under first-year Head Coach Byron Scott. With Bryant back, Young will face direct criticism if he does not comply with the demands Scott will place on the defensive side of the basketball. If Young commits defensively, and continues to perform well offensively, it is conceivable that Bryant will defer to him in certain crunch-time situations, something the Lakers should face much more of this upcoming season. With Scott and Bryant, who together have been a part of the last eight Lakers’ championships, Young has the exact type of guidance needed to take his game to the next level.
The best part of the Lakers bringing back Young is that he is a Los Angeles native. In his return to the Southland, Young has connected quite well with the Laker faithful and community, despite the disappointment that last season brought. Young’s confidence and sense of ego, nevermore evident in his self-given nickname “Swaggy P”, fit in right at home with the star-driven city. His flair for the theatrics, ability to make timely plays and difficult shots are identifiable with what Bryant has done for quite some time now.
Young thriving as the team’s sixth-man, will be critical to the team’s success this season. Not only will Young be a contender for the NBA’s Sixth Man Of The Year Award, but he will also receive starter’s minutes, especially in the fourth quarter. Just how much more can Young provide still needs to be determined and will require quite a bit of effort from both Scott and Bryant to help him attain.
Being in Los Angeles, Young has found more than just a home with the Lakers. He is home, and now comes the hardest part – not relaxing. Not under Byron Scott, and definitely not in Kobe Bryant’s house.