I have a confession to make: I hate posts that start with “I have a confession to make.” I also have recently found myself hating Nick Young’s inability to make shots.
When the Clippers made that deadline trade with the Wizards to rent Nick Young for half a season in exchange for a might-as-well-not-even-be-there 2nd rounder and Brian “I Miss You In That I Can No Longer Mock You” Cook, I thought the move was good. Heck, the move is still good. Nick Young cost basically nothing and has had some decent games. But I thought it would be “Randy Foye immediately relegated to the bench for all but 15 minutes a game” good. And it hasn’t.
Key to this issue is that Nick Young can only do one thing really well on the basketball court: shoot. And if the shots don’t go in, he becomes an extremely below-average player (although his defense has been perfectly acceptable, especially compared to what often happens with Mo Williams or Randy Foye guarding SGs). And the shots have not been going in very much at all. With the Clippers, Nick Young has shot 33.3% on 3-pointers compared to his 37.1% with the Wizards before the trade (and 37.8% on his career). His overall FG% is down 2% from earlier this season. He’s making almost one full fewer free throw per 36 minutes (via drawing about 1 fewer per 36 than he did with the Wizards).
Now, I must admit that I haven’t caught many Wizards games this season, despite watching many, many NBA basketball games ever single night for reasons I no longer really understand. I say this because, for all I know, I should have never expected Nick Young to make more shots just because he would theoretically be getting easier looks via Chris Paul and Blake Griffin drawing attention. But I have a feeling he has had more open looks, and he has simply not made them. Obviously we’ve also seen him take some of his patented “Jamal Crawford with even less of a conscience” isolation dribble jumpers…but I still don’t buy it as the only reason for his bad production. Nick Young should have been better than this for the Clippers. And yet here we are.
But wait. Before we’re done, I have a bit of a twist. We know that Nick Young has produced poorly offensively (the numbers are right up there if you want a reminder)…but has the team performed worse with him on the floor? Somewhat shockingly, it has not (that much)! A caveat — Young (as of NBA.com’s stats system being updated) has only played 11 games and 284 minutes with the Clippers.
Starting lineup with Foye — Net rating of 7.4. (462 minutes)
Starting lineup with Young — 7.2. (53 minutes)
” ” Williams — 1.4 (186 minutes)
I would include the starting lineup with Chauncey at SG, but it’s so much better than any of those lineups that it’s depressing to imagine what we missed out on because of Chauncey’s injury. Anyway, the key reason for the (limited minutes) lineup featuring Young holding up about as well as anything is the fact that the team becomes ridiculously good offensively, enough to offset a 113 defensive rating. It’s very comparable to the Mo Willliams SG starting lineup, except that 5-man’s defense is somehow even worse. Of course, I have no idea how the Nick Young lineup would hold up in bigger minutes, and we’re never going to find out because Vinny Del Negro has clearly decided to sail on with Randy Foye starting. I’d delve into some other 5-man lineups featuring Young, but their minutes are currently so low that there’s nothing to be gleaned.
Going into this, I thought I was going to vent about Nick Young being a massive disappointment. But my heart isn’t in it. Swaggy P (as he likes to be called) is hilarious. He has no conscience, a mini-fro, and we share the same first name. I can’t rip the guy for more or less just missing the same shots he had been making (except in a tougher situation, in terms of defense) with the Wizards. All in all, so far, he’s been about as good as Randy Foye. Did I want someone better than Randy Foye? Yes. Yes I want a better starting shooting guard than Randy Foye. But as bad as Nick Young can look, he’s been more or less a net neutral so far compared against the Clippers’ other shooting guards.
Swaaaaaagin’ takes him away to where he’s always heard it could be
Just a dribble and the J to carry him
And soon he will be (a) free (agent)