Nick Young Injury Means LA Lakers Devoid of Both Scoring and Fun

Ben LeibowitzCorrespondent IIIFebruary 7, 2014

Feb 4, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Nick Young (0) celebrates his three pointer in the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. Minnesota wins 109-99. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

With news of Nick Young’s injured knee, the hapless Los Angeles Lakers are now completely devoid of scoring, fun and, last but not least, “swag.”

Mike Trudell of revealed the MRI results via Twitter:

“Swaggy P” has not only been the Lakers' leading scorer throughout much of the 2013-14 season—his 16.9 points per game average puts him a hair behind Pau Gasol’s 17 points per contest—but he’s also been the team’s most consistent and durable option.

Through the Feb. 5 matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Young had appeared in 48 games (nine starts) while missing just one—a Jan. 17 win against the Boston Celtics.

That 48-game total over the Lakers’ first 49 ties him with Jodie Meeks, Wesley Johnson and Jordan Hill. Now the 28-year-old is expected to miss a minimum of two weeks.

Nevertheless, ESPN's Dave McMenamin said via Twitter that the Sixth Man of the Year candidate will return.

Young’s shooting percentages of 41.9 percent from the field and 34.9 percent from three-point range aren’t great, but the energy he brings the Lakers off the bench is something that simply can’t be replaced.

In fact, head coach Mike D’Antoni praised the vitality the free-agent acquisition has brought to his injury-riddled squad:

“When we have shootaround and the energy’s down, he’s ‘swaggy’ out there and he feels it and he starts ‘swaggin’ or something, and he starts going and he gets everybody’s energy up,” D’Antoni said. “And it’s not silly energy, and sometimes you have that, it’s a good positive fun.”

During the grueling 82-game season, it’s easy for lackluster teams to fall into a rut. And while the Lakers haven’t been winning many games, Young’s upbeat demeanor has rubbed off on his coach.

In addition to scoring 20 or more points on 17 separate occasions in 2013-14, Young is one of the few Lakers players who is genuinely exciting to watch—for a variety of reasons.

Although his propensity to heat up from anywhere on the court is exciting, his bone-headed “Shaqtin’ a Fool” plays are equally entertaining.

That ridiculous attempt at a 360-degree layup earned more than a few laughs, but believe it or not, Young was actually trying to emulate a miraculous circus shot he made in 2011 as a member of the Washington Wizards.

As fans, you never quite know what you’re going to see when Young is out on the court. He has the potential to make a spectacular highlight play, but he also has an uncanny ability to do some admittedly dumb things.

In the second quarter of the Jan. 15 matchup against the Phoenix Suns, Young drove to the basket and got hacked by rookie big man Alex Len. The Maryland product was hit with a flagrant foul for slapping Young’s head.

Swaggy P took exception and began swinging at anything in a white jersey—including Suns point guard Goran Dragic, who became the victim after trying to calm Young’s temper. The Lakers guard was ejected from the game.

“I feel bad,” Young said afterward, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “It’s just basketball. I didn’t try to push Dragic. That’s my guy. I feel bad for that.”

Although the veteran guard wishes no ill-will toward the Slovenian point guard, he was clearly upset that no teammates came to his defense during the altercation.

“What I’m mad about is it was 1-on-5, I felt like,” he said, per McMenamin. “If somebody [from the Lakers] would have got in the middle, everything wouldn’t have escalated that much.”

Young is a guy who plays with plenty of emotion, and while he shouldn’t have lost his cool knowing that his team has been shorthanded all season long, he has a right to be peeved by his teammates’ lack of action.

On a lighter note, Young displayed his bubbly personality during Kobe Bryant’s rehab stint by pretending to be “The Black Mamba” during a post-practice interview with reporters.

Again, you just never know what you’re going to get with Young. He’s a rare combination of skill and hilarity, while also sprinkling in a reputation as a bit of a loose cannon.

He isn’t afraid to say what’s on his mind (as Kobe Bryant or otherwise).

The Lakers were struggling to win games with him, so they’re in big trouble now that he’ll be watching from the sidelines. They'll go from kinda-sorta watchable to just plain depressing.