Profiling new Los Angeles Laker Nick Young requires knowledge about bad shots, gaudy shoe collections and the murky definition of "swag" in equal parts. And that's just the beginning.
The return to Los Angeles (Young played with the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2011-12 season before heading to the Philadelphia 76ers last year) has to feel good for the USC product. The honeymoon is likely to wear off the first time Kobe Bryant levels a death stare at the trigger-happy swingman, but for now, everything's rosy for Young and the Lakers.
So while everyone in L.A. is digging on the signing of "SwagyP," let's give fans a chance to get better acquainted with the Lakers' newest addition.
He's Big on Degree of Difficulty
Young has a reputation as a perimeter shooter, which he has rightfully earned over the years by casting away from the outside with reckless abandon. But hidden behind the heavy dose of jumpers is a scary athlete that can seriously elevate when he gets a head of steam.
And when Young has enough of a runway to take off, it doesn't matter how big the opposing team's rim-protector is. In fact, it's almost as though Young saves up his biggest dunks for some of the league's most imposing big men.
Just ask Larry Sanders.
Or Ian Mahinmi.
It makes sense that Young opts to create posters under the most difficult circumstances, because his entire offensive game is pretty much based on low-percentage plays.
Speaking of which...
He Tends to Kill His Team's Offense
Young has some genuine athletic talent. Anyone still doubting that should probably refer to the section above.
The problem is that the 6'7" wing has never shown the ability to maximize his skills efficiently.
In his career, Young has hit about 37 percent of his three-point attempts, which is actually not bad. Unfortunately, his overall field-goal percentage is just a hair under 43 percent, which is pretty much unacceptable for a player whose only real contributions to his team come via made buckets.
Taking last year as an example, Young provided 10.6 points per game for a pretty awful Sixers team. He made 41 percent of his field goals and just under 36 percent of his threes. Despite the fact that Young's role with the Sixers was an offensive spark plug, he somehow managed to make Philly's offense more than three points per 100 possessions worse when he was on the floor (per NBA.com).
In addition, he continued his career-long trend of poor rebounding and nonexistent facilitating.
Young will never be a critical part of a winning team. In fact, if he's playing significant minutes, it's a pretty good sign that your squad is in trouble.
@johnhollinger I think it was the sage Nick Young who once said "it's not a bad shot if it goes in."— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) May 4, 2012
But don't worry; there actually is a way to use Young that can contribute to winning. Basically, it requires a stroke of luck that results in him getting hot at the right time.
He Can String Together Buckets
The thing about shooters like Young is that, eventually, they knock down a few big shots in a row. That was the case in 2012, when Young helped engineer a stunning comeback in Game 1 of the Clippers' first-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Thanks largely to Young's unflappable confidence, L.A. overcame a 27-point deficit to steal a playoff win.
After that 6-of-9 performance in Game 1, though, Young hit just 12-of-32 shots during the series' final six games. This is what you're getting, Lakers fans: a guy who can almost single-handedly win one game but kill you for six others.
A quick hook from Mike D'Antoni is going to be a must. Otherwise, Young is liable to shoot the Lakers out of a boatload of games in between his hot nights.
He Is What He Is
Young has his flaws, but he's not apologetic about them. Catch him in a postgame interview after a 1-of-11 performance and he's likely to talk about how he never lost confidence, or that he always expected the next shot to go in.
In one sense, that kind of unabashed bravado is refreshing. Young simply is what he is, and he can't really help it.
And his totally on-the-nose tweet at the end of Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals was a perfect encapsulation of his basketball philosophy.
They better go out shooting— Nick Young (@NickSwagyPYoung) June 19, 2013
He Might Have Seen This Coming
It sounds crazy, but Young might have the ability to predict the future. How else to explain this photo from his Instagram account, which was taken long before he agreed to sign with the Lakers?
I guess it's also possible that Young engineered his L.A. arrival by taking less money than he otherwise would have made on the open market, but it's more fun to pretend he has psychic powers.
He's Into Shoes
That might be the understatement of the year, as Young is among the NBA's most renowned sneakerheads. Check out his ridiculous collection.
Whatever Young ends up doing in the stat sheet this season, rest assured that he'll get his numbers while sporting the most varied collection of hard-to-find kicks in the league.
Hey, if you can't play like Michael Jordan or LeBron James, you might as well at least wear their shoes, right?
Ultimately, it's kind of awesome that Young gets to go home.
It's just too bad that we can't tell whether or not he's excited about becoming a Laker.