The 76ers have had a pretty solid start to the 2012 preseason, especially considering they are playing without their prized off-season pickup, Andrew Bynum. The thinking goes that the team will only improve once Andrew hits the hardwood, so the team’s 5-1 start to this preseason sans-Bynum is pretty promising.
The Sixers have bested Eastern Conference foes Boston (2x), Cleveland, Brooklyn, and Orlando, with their only loss coming in overtime at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall to the Nets.
One of the brightest points for the 7-6 this preseason has been the play of the newly-acquired Nick Young (15 & 6 rbs. last night), who has taken little time to find his flow in Philly’s offense. A slasher with nearly unlimited range, Young can score in a variety of ways and provides Philly with the type of threat that they’ll need to compliment Bynum. As a bonus he has shown an ability to rebound and flashes of a defensive presence that he had not displayed previously in his career.
Through six games this preseason Nick has been putting up an impressive 16 points per night in twenty six minutes a game. This output would have been more than enough to lead the 2011-12 Sixers in scoring last season; not bad for a dude that isn’t playing “starter’s minutes”. Although if you recall, the Sixers’ leading scorer last season, Lou Williams, was in a reserve as well, so there under Doug Collins, there appears to be plenty of potential for Nick to continue to produce at this high level.
Even more impressive than Nick’s overall output this preseason is the efficiency with which he’s scoring. The common misconception of NY is that he is a high volume shooter. Others have been less kind in describing his game and claim that while he can score points in bunches, he needs a lot of looks to do so, and his shot selection has been known to make coaches cringe. While this rap has stuck with him throughout his NBA career, very little of this cavalier style of play has been seen thus far in Philly.
Instead, Nick has been getting his 16 points per night by shooting an impressive 49% from the field, topped off with an unconscious 47.8 percent from beyond the arc. All of these numbers represent a vast improvement over his five year career averages. Those averages — 42% from the field, 37% from three, and 11.4 ppg. — pale in comparison to the numbers Nick has been piling up this preseason.
Nick’s offensive arsenal and output thus far have been a great sign for Sixer fans, but it is important to realize that production at this level will probably not be sustained throughout a full 82 game season. Preseason defense is notoriously shaky in general, and little of Nick’s scoring success this preseason has come against a team or player necessarily noted for their defense. Just because Nick has been able to pile up points against subpar defenders in the preseason, does not mean he will be able to provide the same production throughout the season.
However, once Andrew Bynum enters the lineup, the big man’s presence on the block will demand attention and draw defenders off of the Sixers’ shooters such as NY, making their job easier and leaving them what should be ample open shot opportunities. If Young is able to cash in on these open opportunities with even somewhat of a similar efficiency to that with which he has shown so far this preseason, then he really has the chance to be something special for the Sixers this season.