Without Kobe Bryant carrying the load for the Los Angeles Lakers, Nick Young has stepped up and earned his moniker: Swaggy P. Leading the team in scoring with 17.1 points, Young has been a bright spot during a morbid season for LA.
There is no doubt that Young has the swagger and the charisma to shine in the L.A. spotlight. When the Lakers were scrappy and competitive prior to the myriad of injuries that befell their guards, Young was the key cog to their early season success.
Starting out 10-9, Young was the spark off the bench and his play was reminiscent of Nate Robinson's torrid performances with the Chicago Bulls last season.
With a comfortable role as the sixth man of the team, there is no reason Young can't thrive with the Lakers for the foreseeable future.
As a scorer, Young is a high-volume shooter that can score the basketball in a myriad of ways. With Bryant on the back-end of his career and willing to play a facilitating role, Young and Bryant shouldn't clash in terms of fighting for possession of the ball.
In fact, according to the Los Angeles Daily News' Mark Medina, Bryant has become a mentor to Young and should only aid his growth as a player.
In terms of his production, the Lakers aren't going to find a more versatile and fearless scorer for the $1.1 million that Young is being paid this season.
According to his shot chart, Young is at his most efficient when attacking the rim, shooting close-range shots along the baseline and shooting three-point shots from the middle of the arc. This versatility stems from his ability to take his man off the dribble.
Although he does settle for more three-pointers than he should, his ability to stretch the floor is still crucial in Mike D'Antoni's offense. If D'Antoni continues to be entrusted with the Lakers' future, then there is no better cog in his machine than Young.
While Young isn't an All-Star caliber player in terms of his overall game, he can definitely score the basketball at an All-Star level.
Although he doesn't possess much of a post-up game, his explosiveness, quickness and ability to hit the open shot make him a perfect complementary scorer in the same way Richard Jefferson complemented Vince Carter in New Jersey.
If he can learn to be a more conscious passer and a better rebounding presence, he could have the same upside as Jefferson, who was able to average 22.6 points, four rebounds and three assists during the 2005-2006 season for all 82 games.
Even though Young doesn't appear to have superstar potential in him, he should continue to be a focal point of the Lakers' offense even after the return of the Black Mamba.
While Young and a young Black Mamba may have clashed due to their mutual need to dominate the basketball, Young should receive all the shots he wants as Bryant eases his way back.
If Bryant can find the balance between facilitating and scoring like he did during last season's playoff push, both players should be able to co-exist as Lakers until Bryant decides to hang up his sneakers.
Should Nick Young exercise his player option for next season?
Young has the perfect situation in L.A. He has the responsibility of being one of the primary focuses on offense without the overwhelming responsibility of being the team's superstar.
That onus still falls upon Kobe Bryant and, to a lesser extent, Pau Gasol. The one drawback is that the Lakers may not be able to give him a star-level salary if he chooses to forgo his player option next season in search of a long-term extension.
However, if Young is looking to become an All-Star and shoulder the responsibilities that come with the huge contract that accompanies it, L.A. may not be the place for him.
At age 28, Young is right at his prime and should consider spending the peak years of his career in the L.A. spotlight alongside a hungry Black Mamba, whose swan song is about to begin.