Nick Young Might be the Lakers’ Most Improved Player

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Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick (#4) defends Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young (#0) during their NBA game at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on December 25, 2016. / AFP / RINGO CHIU (Photo credit should read RINGO CHIU/AFP/Getty Images)

The 2015-16 NBA season was turbulent for Lakers guard Nick Young. Young had the worst season of his career and experienced headline-grabbing off-court issues. His career-lows in points, field goal percentage, and three-point percentage led to Lakers fans wanting Young gone. Young’s poor play, as well as his clash with teammate D’Angelo Russell, sparked what looked like the end of Young’s time in Los Angeles. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case, as Young has been one of the Lakers’ most impressive players this season. One could even say that Young has greatly improved at the age of 31.

Nick Young Might be the Lakers’ Most Improved Player

From Unwanted Guard to Key Player

Young has started 45 games this season. The upbeat guard is averaging 13.7 points per game so far. Under former head coach Byron Scott, Young struggled in all areas of his game. After experiencing the worst season of his career, Young has made significant strides under new head coach Luke Walton. Averaging more points, rebounds, and assists than last season, Young has become a key player for Walton. One of Young’s most impressive stats is his turnover rate. Last season, Young averaged 0.6 turnovers in 19 minutes per game. This season, the sharpshooter is playing 7.5 minutes more, but he’s maintained his average of 0.6 turnovers.

The Fans’ Perspective  

On our Los Angeles Lakers Twitter account, we ran a poll asking who the Lakers’ most improved player is. Below are the surprising results from are @LWOS_LALakers Twitter page.

A fairly small sample size, but Young takes an impressive 50 percent of the vote. This happened despite the veteran going up against two promising youngsters, Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr, in the poll.

NBA Three-Point Contest

On Thursday, news was released that Young will compete in this year’s NBA Three-Point Contest. Young will go up against Eric Gordon, Kyrie Irving, Kyle Lowry, Wesley Matthews, C.J. McCollum, Kemba Walker, and defending champion Klay Thompson. This is a star-studded list; you could even say that Young doesn’t belong. However, the nine-year veteran enters as one of the best three-point shooters, percentage-wise. Shooting a striking 41.6 percent from beyond the arc, Young is ahead of Thompson and Walker. Young has a serious chance of winning, even against such strong opposition.

Is All of this a Bad Thing? 

Young’s improvement is good for him and the team, but is Young being arguably the Lakers’ most improved player a bad thing overall? Now 31, Young isn’t getting any younger, and you could make the argument that one of the Lakers’ many youthful players should be most improved. With Russell and Randle struggling with injuries, Young has played more games than both. Russell and Randle have the opportunity to finish the second half of the season strong, but health will be key.

Young has predominantly been a bench player during his career. However, under Walton this season, Young has started every game in which he’s played. This is a huge difference from last season, when Young started just two games all year. Walton put his faith into the unpredictable Young, and the coach hasn’t regretted it. Young has repaid Walton’s faith, with his consistent performances.

Hopefully, Young Stays in Los Angeles 

This off-season, Young has the opportunity to opt out of his contract. He has a player option in his current deal, an option that could see Young leave Los Angeles. The Lakers would do well to keep Young around, with the shooting guard playing his best basketball in a long while. However, because of Young’s player option, the decision is very much out of the team’s hands. Fans in Los Angeles would love to see Young stay in town, but with the enigmatic guard’s value higher than ever, Young could move on via free agency.

 

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