Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Nick Young takes charge

With John Wall still out and Gilbert Arenas now in Orlando after being traded for Rashard Lewis, Nick Young has had to shoulder more of the scoring load in the last two games. Against the Heat a few days ago, a game in which the Wizards somehow lost despite leading by five with 32 seconds left and again by four with 18 seconds left, Young perhaps had his best game of the season, scoring 30 points on 13-23 shooting and grabbing four rebounds. He also made both of his three-point attempts and both of his free throws while playing a season-high 45 minutes.

Young followed his performance against the Heat with another efficient effort last night in a blowout (108-75) win over the Bobcats. He scored a team-high 21 points in 35 minutes and shot 8-13 from the field. He also made three three-pointers and got to the line twice (making both), though he did commit five turnovers, a season-high for him.

When Wall gets healthy and returns to the lineup, it's not clear yet whether Young will move to the bench as the third guard or will instead start at shooting guard and force Kirk Hinrich to assume third guard duties. Hinrich does seem to be more comfortable playing point guard and getting his teammates involved, while there's no question that Young's best attribute is putting the ball in the hoop. In his last eight games, Young has scored at least 17 points in seven of them. In his one bad game during that stretch -- a three-point clunker against the Kings on December 8 -- Young made just one of eight shots while also turning the ball over three times.

Other than that, Young is averaging slightly more than 19 points per game in nine December games (he missed one against the Blazers because of a bruised left thigh) and shooting over 48 percent from the field. In 25 games so far this season, Young is playing more minutes (which should continue), making more of his shots (48.0 percent), and scoring more points (14.5) and grabbing slightly more rebounds (2.2). He's also taking more threes (3.6 per game) and is still making 38.9 percent of them. For someone who loves to shoot long twos, it's good that Young is shooting and making more threes. I also haven't noticed Young shooting as many fade-aways, though I'm not sure if that's completely true or not.

Young may not continue to play and shoot this well, but he's going to have every opportunity to do so since the Wizards don't exactly have a ton of other options at guard right now. But for someone who hasn't seen a whole lot of consistent minutes throughout his career, Young certainly won't complain about that.

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