Browse Archives by:

How Does James Young Fit For The Celtics?

After going 25-57 last year, the Celtics would have been foolish to draft for need with the sixth pick, and they didn’t. Boston grabbed Marcus Smart, one of the two best players available with Julius Randle and the only player among the two best players available who blew them away with his workout (Randle, you may recall, allegedly passed on a second workout with the Celtics for a GQ photo shoot). Smart makes a lot of sense for the Celtics, despite questions about his fit with the team. He’s fiery, incredibly competitive, strong as an ox, a solid defender and as tough as they come.

With the 17th pick, the Celtics could afford to make a more need-based pick. The Celtics needed a rim protector and wing scoring, and with no rim protectors available, they grabbed Kentucky freshman James Young. This is considerably more complicated.

There are lots of reasons to believe Young can be an effective NBA player, and if he pans out (remember this phrase, because we’ll come back to it), he could be a very good fit for the Celtics. Fans have long mourned Jeff Green’s lack of rebounding despite his length and athleticism, and Young used his size to snare rebounds at the college level. If Young can produce an average number of rebounds, that particular aspect of his game will be an undeniable upgrade.

But the Celtics mainly brought him in to score, and he has excelled — at times — in that role.

“He’s always been a scorer,” Brad Stevens said after Young was selected. “We felt he is a very undervalued scoring wing. We were surprised he was available.”

Young scored 20 or more points nine times as a freshman, as pointed out by DraftExpress, which might indicate a player who killed weak competition on some nights but struggled against better competition on others. It also may indicate a young player who is inconsistent because young players are inconsistent. After watching his shooting stroke, I’m inclined to believe it’s a combination of the two. Young struggles to create his own shot (he rarely got all the way to the rim, often opting to pull up for a jumpshot instead), but his stroke is fluid and enticing from 3-point range. Assuming that his point guard play is better in the pros, his looks may improve, forcing him to take fewer bad shots. With his excellent size and length, Young could be a very solid role player, capable of scoring in bunches and helping a team immensely on the offensive end.

But therein lies the problem. If Young doesn’t pan out, the Celtics have merely brought in a poor man’s Jeff Green…in a likely attempt to replace Jeff Green. Both players have nice strokes that don’t necessarily go in at a high rate. Green is a much better individual defender — Young is bad at both team and individual defense due to his low defensive IQ and his lack of lateral quickness.

Young also struggles when he is contested. According to DraftExpress, Young scored just 0.92 points per possession when he was contested, as opposed to 1.32 when he was open. This, of course, makes sense given that open shots are much easier, but it’s also concerning to see his production fall off that far. His handle is questionable, which may mean he’ll struggle to do anything besides straight line drives to the basket. Without some side-to-side movement on his drives, he’s unlikely to get to the line much. Again, comparing this aspect of his game to Jeff Green gives us some uncomfortable similarities.

But setting aside from his attributes on the basketball court, the Celtics took Young for another reason: He’s only 18. Other (arguably safer) picks were available to Boston at 17. Rodney Hood is a more established small forward. PJ Hairston is a more established 3-point shooter. But Young has shown enough production to be a valuable asset, and he has the potential to be better than both Hood and Hairston, as well as several players who were drafted ahead of him. Whether he reaches that potential remains to be seen, but Young certainly seems to think he can.

“I’d say Tracy McGrady,” Young told DraftExpress when asked for an NBA comparison. “I’m very athletic, scoring, coming off screens and attacking the basket.”

Well then, James. I doubt it, but I certainly hope so.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.

  • hax

    Bradley -> Free Agent
    Young -> SG already better on offense(our main need alongside rim protecting)

    The piece fits. :3

    • Sophomore

      James Young is not already better on offense than AB. Not even close. He settles for a lot of jump shots and doesn’t convert at a high %age – just 34.9% from behind the college 3-point line. Last year AB shot 39.5% from the NBA three point line.

      And let’s not even start comparing them on defense.

  • dasein

    Hoping Danny doesn’t look like an idiot for taking this guy over Gary Harris. I think at worst, Harris can be what Patty Mills was this year for the Spurs.

    I could see Young out of the league in 5 years. Not saying he will be, but the bust potential is high. You cant teach lateral quicks and thats kinda important on the wing.

    • hax

      Ray Allen does pretty well without lateral. 😀

      • check12check

        yeah, but you ever see young becoming the 3 point shooter that allen is? I think he for sure can develop in that regard, but he’s never going to be an absolutely elite 3 point shooter

        • hax

          Rondo crosses over his defender, blows past him. SG jumps over to help, Rondo kicks it out. Wide open jump shot for Young. And he didn’t even move!


    • Bdiddy

      You obviously are not GM material. They drafted Young to play the 3 not the 2. Listen to Ainge’s press conference after the draft. He fully intends to try to bring Bradley back so why would you draft Harris who is 6′ 3″ and cannot play the 3.

      • hax

        He’s just worried Young won’t pan out(high upside, low downside, called our coach ‘Brian’).

        I think somebody will bid Bradley too high for his injury prone/inconsistent game and Brad will throw Young into our starting SG spot, though. He’s not better than Green, doesn’t defend as well as Wallace. So unless we firesale Rondo-Green, and grab a couple of guards shorter than Young, he probably won’t play much SF for us.

      • dasein

        You’re obviously not so good at the reading comprehension.

        Who said anything about Harris playing the 3? What I’m saying is that Harris seems to have the higher floor. At worst he looks like an impact 3rd guard. My concern is that Young is the next Joe Forte.

        The Celtics aren’t close to competing for anything, so what they need is talent. AB is a nice player, but he’s not a foundational piece and not a reason to pass on a guard if he’s the BPA.

        • Bdiddy

          Let me explain in simple terms you may understand. Young can play the 2 and the 3 so he has positional versatility that Harris does not have. If we are lucky enough to dump Wallace this year Young will be JG’s backup. Do you think it is just coincidence that Harris plummeted down the draft board after individual team workouts? Obviously, many teams besides the Celtic’s saw something they did not like.

          • dasein

            9 teams saw something they didn’t like in Pierce when he dropped to 10. How did that work out for them? Teams get it wrong all the time.

            Look, I don’t know whether Young or Harris is going to pan out and neither do you. But I’ve got good reasons to prefer the later- go checkout the draftexpress vids if you want them.

            Positional versatility doesn’t mean squat if the player isn’t good enough to stay on the floor in the first place. If you want to defend the Young pick based on potential or whatever, that’s one thing. But the argument that talent is less important than “versatility” or potential fit if this, and this, and some other things happen… well it’s pretty weak.

            And finally, don’t go questioning others intelligence. When you do that you come across as a 15yr old who does OK in school but is crap at sports and girls.

  • cos

    I tried to post earlier but you new system stinks (not the word I wanted to use), I am not a fan of the disqus system and preferred the old way. Anyway….

    I am not thrilled that the Celts drafted Smart. Mainly cause I’d rather have Rondo and mainly cause you need stars to get stars and stars win chips. Smart over Rondo means it’ll take longer to get a first or second star. But we discuss all things rondo later.

    More importantly, and what actually forced me to create a disqus account to post here, I’m ambivalent on Young. Im hopeful without expectations, but I learned a funny/interesting thing from the draft express link you posted in this post.

    Take a look at who Young’s agent is… none other than Jay-Z. Who else does Jay-Z represent? … Kevin Durant. And to close the loop, just a fews days before the draft, Ainge’s son greased a wheel or two with the “we would have drafted Durant had we won the lottery.”

    Hahahahahahha, I guess this is DA’s way of winking at KD and letting him know he’s the apple of his eye and the only Kevin in his heart.

    • hax

      Don’t get me wrong, I’d trade this whole roster for Durant.
      But he has heart and loyalty to fans that support him.
      I don’t expect him to cramp up, be mentally weak, and take his talents to a super team elsewhere.

      • cos

        perfect example of one reason why I dislike the disqus system. I don’t need an email every time someone responds to my post.

        no offense hax.

    • check12check

      i just don’t understand the pick given what was available at the 7 and 8 picks. of those guys, I think smart, right now, wins you a game at the YMCA, but I think he he is the weakest of the 3 in terms of winning at the NBA level.

      young is not a terrible pick for us. if we can turn him into a true 2 with some work, we would be in great shape. I see us stashing him in the D-league and seeing what he can become

      • Bdiddy

        Yes. It would have been much “smarter” to draft Randle or Vonleh who are both PFs so we could have 5 PFs on the roster. What if Rondo decides to leave next year? Who was going to be our starting PG – Pressey? That would have been great planning.

      • Ping

        I agree with Bdiddy. Randle and Vonleh are both intriguing, but neither appears to have a ceiling any higher than Smart’s. We all may have our own opinions on the three, but the C’s thought Smart was the best player available and took him. That high in the lottery, I want talent not need. Heck, as Bdiddy noted, Randle is more repetitive to Sullinger/Olynyk than Smart is to Rondo.

        Now Stauskas (#8 to Sac)? That’s a different discussion and I was intrigued by him. He projects to not only be a great shooter, but an above average passer and defender. I could see him becoming Klay Thompson 2.0 if the Sactown stink doesn’t get to him. Thing is, Smart still projects to be better. I wouldn’t mind having him, but taking him at 6 might have been a little rich.

  • hax
  • Michelle Trybulec

    Gut feeling…

    If the C’s fail to achieve a grand free agent insta-rebuild this off-season, and Phil manages to keep ‘Melo in NY as well as pick up Pau Gasol, the Zen Master will then go hard after 9. At that point it’s likely NY will have a few pieces more enticing to the C’s than they did last year (because Phil has already shown he’s willing and able to move pieces around quickly), and both our Captain and Trader Dan will have to think hard about their choices and their timelines. This could all take right up until the trade deadline to play out, but it seems like a legit hypothetical. There is zero question that the C’s are the better run organization, but Rondo has to weigh that with a player’s urgency to compete with the elite. The reality is it’s often one or the other, b/c of timing, shelf-life, health, players going in then out of prime (see Heat, Miami). It’s rare to have both come together — great organizational achievement plus superior player performance — even for the most consistently successful squads (see Spurs, San Antonio). The evolution of the salary cap has only made it trickier and definitely in some ways more frustrating for fans who know they have a good, or great, organization trying hard to build a winner.

  • hax

    Celtics should offer all of their cap space to Parsons and screw the Rockets. Make them pay the man. Or…get a good SF.
    Then do the same thing with Hayward.

  • hax

    Hawks lose solid combo guard Lou Williams and young big man Nogueira just to get and release John Salmons. After drafting two guys to back up Horford and Millsap instead of filling a need and contending. Danny Ferry doing exactly what he did in Cleveland.
    The Jazz may be rivaling his lack of GM skills, though. Non-stop chatter about signing Hayward no matter the contract. Someone can offer him a max deal and screw the Jazz, because they’ve made it publicly known to accept signing him no matter what.
    Whereas the Celtics aren’t saying anything about Bradley. Be quiet, and get him back cheap, or let him go and replace him with Young.

  • hax

    Rumor, and probably just a rumor.
    Rondo asked for a $100 million extension.

    If that does happen to be true, trade now!!!