Nick Young is finally smiling again for all the right reasons. Throughout the summer, Young’s future with the Lakers was in jeopardy. It wasn’t a surprise to hear that Lakers were entertaining trade offers for the 6’7″ small forward. Young had a disastrous season on and off the court. He averaged career lows in points and shooting percentage. He had the whole fiasco with D’Angelo Russell. Young was on the edge of leaving Los Angeles, but with his recent success and consistency, he is emerging to be an important rotational player for the Lakers.
Much of Young’s success and positive attitude is from Luke Walton’s encouragement and trust. The Lakers hired Walton in order to create a new basketball culture- one that encompasses basketball to be fun, joyful and competitive. The jubilant personality, positive coach-to-player feedback and loud playing music in practice have all significantly changed the vibe surrounding the Lakers compared to last year. No other player more than Young is reaping the benefits of this new culture.
It wasn’t long ago when “Swaggy-P” was one of the most entertaining and joyful Laker to watch. When he played under Mike D’Antoni, Young averaged career highs in scoring and three-pointers made (18 points and two 3-pointers). Although Walton’s offense is different from D’Antoni’s, the concept of movement and sharing the ball is largely the same. Young’s skillset fits perfectly in this new offensive system.
Walton is not shy to support and complement Young’s play. Walton has gone so far as to say that Young has been one of their best defenders and player in the preseason so far- a shocking revelation to a lot of people.
His attitude and play have completely shifted 180 degrees since last year.
Young is flourishing under Walton’s system. In the six games he played in the preseason, Young is averaging 13 points while shooting a blazing 54.9 percent from the field and a scorching 54.3 percent from deep in only 20 minutes of play. Young shot over 50 percent from the field in five of the last six preseason game. In his most recent outing against the Warriors, he shot 7-of-13 from the field with five 3-pointers. No one should expect these types of shooting numbers on a consistent level from him, but they are still signs of high encouragement and optimism.
There is a valid argument that Young is playing for his career, hence his consistent and successful play. It will be imperative for Young to continue that consistency throughout the season. There will be nights where his shots are not falling, and the mood of the team is somber. When those nights occur, it will be up for him to provide energy and spark in other areas other than scoring.
Throughout his career as a Laker, he is known to be a happy and goofy person. His teammates are attracted to his jovial nature.
The Lakers will lose games more often than not. Hopefully, Young can continue to radiate his positive vibes and decent play around the Lakers throughout the season.