YOUNG GUN

As Sixers fans already know by now, last Friday the team announced that they’ve agreed to a one-year contract with former Clippers guard Nick Young for close to $6 million.  The team is also ready to use the amnesty clause on veteran forward Elton Brand, while Lou Williams’ time in a Sixers uniform is also now officially over.  Needless to say, last week was a busy week for the 76ers organization.

Young spent his first four-plus seasons with the Washington Wizards before he was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in March.

With the Wizards last season, Young averaged 16.6 points in 40 games (32 starts).  He drew the attention of the Sixers front office in an early-season match-up where he dropped 27 points while pulling down 7 rebounds in a losing effort vs. our 7-6.

It was his efforts in games like this that ultimately drew the Clippers interest in Young as they acquired him late in the season in a three-team deal with the Wizards and Nuggets.

Young didn’t find nearly as much success with the Clippers, but still had some a few big moments with the team.  Young averaged just 9.7 points in 22 games (3 starts) and really wasn’t able to find his offensive rhythm within the Clippers system.

He did however perform at a high level for the Clippers in the playoffs. 

In the Clippers’ Game 1 match-up against the Memphis Grizzlies, when it seemed as if the Clippers had no life left, Young drained three 3-pointers in less than a minute in a thrilling 99-98 comeback victory.  Young’s 3-balls were crucial in the Clippers late surge, coming back from as many as 24 points down with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter to pull out the win.

Although only averaging about 16-19 minutes a game in the playoffs, Young scored a little over 8 points per game, while netting 17 of his 33 attempts from beyond the arc.

The question Sixers fans must ask themselves is which Young is going to take the court for the 7-6 when the season starts in October?

As long as he becomes a starter, I’m going with the Washington Wizards version of Nick Young.  Young has the typical shooting guards build.  He stands at 6’7”, weighs in at 210 pounds (both bigger numbers than Kobe Bryant btw) and it seemed as if in a starting role with the Wizards last year he really began to come into his own as a scorer.

I think that giving Young the whole off-season to adapt to the Sixers offensive and defensive schemes while learning from Coach  Collins and practicing with his new teammates will do wonders for him.

Obviously the man the Sixers are really hoping Young will be able to replace is Lou Williams.  Not only was Lou the Sixers most prolific scorer, but he was also one of the most tenured and vocal leaders on the team as well.

Lou averaged nearly 15 points and 3.5 assists a game off the bench for the Sixers last season while coming in second to James Harden for the NBA’s sixth man award.

Before landing Young, many of us here at Philadunkia expected the Sixers to go after restricted free-agent OJ Mayo in order to fill our hole at the 2-guard spot.  Nick Young is definitely a solid starting two-guard in the NBA, but he doesn’t have a resume quite like Mayo’s.  In his career Young has also never truly been relied upon as a “scorer” quite in the way Williams was for the Sixers or Mayo has been in Memphis.

Whether or not Young even ends up starting next season for the Sixers is still to be determined (Especially now with the acquisition of Dorrell Wright.).  With the playing time carousel Sixers players had to go through last season with Coach Collins, Young could very well end up coming off the bench in a Jodie Meeks end-of-the-season type role.

Actually while we’re on the subject of Meeks, Young’s PER last season was just slightly above that of the streaky Meeks.  Young’s PER was 12.9 while Meeks logged an 11.5 PER.

However, that stat for Meeks doesn’t put into consideration that Meeks truly maxed out his potential last year (whatever potential that was).  Where as Young thrived in a starting role with Washington, Meeks failed time and time again last season for the Sixers as a starter to the point where in the playoffs, he averaged a mere 7.8 minutes a game.

But, it’s not Meeks that Young has to worry about this off-season.  It’s Evan Turner, Jrue Holiday, Dorrell Wright and even Andre Iguodala.  Knowing what Doug Collins’ lineup will look like on a nightly basis is like knowing what the Phillies bullpen is going to give you when they take the mound; you just don’t.

Turner had the starting role as the two-guard for the Sixers in the playoffs, and overall showed tremendous improvements from his rookie season.  It seems at this point that it’s more Turner’s spot to lose than anything.  Young isn’t exactly a star or veteran and I don’t expect the Sixers to treat him like one.  He’ll have to earn his starting role just like everybody else has had to do on the team.

It will be interesting to see how Doug Collins decides to use him, but I do believe that in order for Young to truly be successful (just like with Washington last season) that he must start.

Just like with any athlete in this city however, he must prove himself first.  And because the Sixers front office was wise with how they structured his contract, Young will have exactly one-year to make that happen.

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